Anti-rejection drugs taken after surgery help prevent a rejection episode, but they also inhibit part of the immune system. Since the body’s ability to fight infection is decreased, transplant recipients are more prone to viruses and infections.
What is CMV?
CMV is short for Cyto-Megalo-Virus. It is a type of herpes virus. CMV can affect almost any organ and cause almost any type of infection.
What are the symptoms of CMV?
Since CMV can affect almost any organ, it can cause many different symptoms. However, the majority of CMV infections are without symptoms (asymptomatic). Some symptoms include:
- Fever (temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius)
- Low white blood cell counts (leukopenia)
- Muscle weakness
- Arthritis-like pain in the knees, hips, ankles or wrists
- Mental confusion
- Shortness of breath
- Blurry vision or loss of vision (The CMV virus often infects one eye and tends to infect the other.)
- Blood in the stools, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea (due to CMV gastritis or colitis — stomach or colon infection)
- Seizures, headaches, confusion or coma (due to CMV encephalitis — brain infection)
What causes CMV?
CMV is most often caused by a reactivation of CMV acquired long before your transplant. If you develop your first CMV infection, the virus likely came from your transplanted organ. (The donor may have been exposed to the virus.)
CMV is transmitted by contact between mucous membranes (the mouth and genitals) and live virus present in the secretions of infected CMV patients.
How is CMV diagnosed?
CMV is difficult to diagnose, since its symptoms mimic many other illnesses. CMV may be detected through blood tests that indicate the presence of CMV antibodies. Urine and sputum cultures also may detect the virus. Biopsy of the infected organ can also indicate the presence of the CMV virus.
How is CMV treated?
Patients diagnosed with CMV are treated with an anti-viral medication, delivered intravenously (through an IV). Recovery may take a long time, and patients are advised to increase activity and exercise gradually, while including periods of rest throughout your recovery.
There is no cure for CMV. Once you have been infected with CMV, the virus remains latent and can cause infection again in the future.
For More Information
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