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What are the causes of cytomegalovirus?

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Touching the eyes, mouth or nose after coming in contact with an infected person's semen, vaginal fluids, saliva or blood may cause cytomegalovirus, according to Mayo Clinic. The virus, also known as CMV, can spread via breast milk, urine and tears. A pregnant woman may pass the virus to her unborn child via the placenta. Most people with cytomegalovirus look healthy.

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Body contact with body fluids of an infected person is the most common cause of the infection because cytomegalovirus can pass via mucous membrane, explains Mayo Clinic. Blood transfusion and organ transplantation can cause infection as well. The virus can also spread from a mother to her child during birth via placenta.

Symptoms of cytomegalovirus are common in babies who get infected while in the womb, during birth or soon after birth, states Mayo Clinic. Pregnant women and people with poor immunity are also at high risk of being infected. Signs and symptoms include pneumonia, seizures, yellowing of skin or eyes, and low birth weight. Infected babies may suffer from hearing or vision problems. CMV patients with weakened immunity may experience diarrhea, blindness, coma, inflammation of the brain and bleeding ulcers.

There is no treatment for CMV; however, patients may take antiviral drugs to slow down the infection, explains Mayo Clinic. To prevent the infection, people should wear condoms while having sex, wash hands regularly, avoid using the same utensils or food with infected persons, and clean items that come in contact with infected individuals.

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