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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus belonging to the herpes family. The disease occurs worldwide and is transmitted by human contact. About four out of five people over age 35 have been infected with cytomegalovirus, usually during childhood or early adulthood. In most of these people, the disease is so mild that it's overlooked. However, CMV infection during pregnancy can be hazardous to the fetus, possibly leading to stillbirth, brain damage, other birth defects, or neonatal illness.
Cytomegalovirus has been found in the saliva, urine, semen, breast milk, feces, blood, and vaginal and cervical secretions of infected persons. Transmission usually takes place through contact with these infected secretions, which harbor the virus for months or even years. Immunodeficient patients (AIDS patients or who have those who have received transplanted organs), are at high risk of contracting CMV infection. Recipients of blood transfusions from donors with positive CMV antibodies are at some risk.
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AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. An immune system deficiency disorder that suddenly alters the body's ability to defend itself. The AIDS virus invades the T4 helper/inducer lymphocytes and multiplies, causing a breakdown in the body's immune system, eventually leading to overwhelming infection and/or cancer, with ultimate death.
Antibody: A type of serum protein (globulin) synthesized by white blood cells of the lymphoid type in response to an antigenic (foreign substance) stimulus. Antibodies are complex substances formed to neutralize or destroy these antigens in the blood. Antibody activity normally fights infection but can be damaging in allergies and a group of diseases that are called autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune Disease: One of a large group of diseases in which the immune system turns against the body's own cells, tissues and organs, leading to chronic and often deadly conditions. Examples include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, Bright's disease and diabetes.
Benign: Literally: innocent; not malignant. Often used to refer to cells that are not cancerous.
Chronic: Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.
Cytomegalovirus: (CMV): A member of the herpes virus family which may induce the immune-deficient state or cause active illness, such as pneumonia, in a patient already immune-deficient due to chronic illness, such as cancer or organ transplantation therapy.
Epstein Barr virus: (EBV): A virus that causes infectious mononucleosis and that is possibly capable of causing other diseases in immunocompromised hosts.
Mononucleosis: An acute, infectious disease caused by the herpes virus, Epstein-Barr virus, with fever and inflamed swelling of the lymph nodes around the neck, under the arms, and in the groin.
Necrosis: Death of one or more cells, or of a portion of a tissue or organ.
Neonatal: A term that refers to newborn infants, particularly during the first four weeks of life.
Nervous System: A system in the body that is comprised of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, ganglia and parts of the receptor organs that receive and interpret stimuli and transmit impulses to effector organs.
Virus: Any of a vast group of minute structures composed of a protein coat and a core of DNA and/or RNA that reproduces in the cells of the infected host. Capable of infecting all animals and plants, causing devastating disease in immunocompromised individuals. Viruses are not affected by antibiotics, and are completely dependent upon the cells of the infected host for the ability to reproduce.