Virus related to glandular fever

The symptoms of mononucleosis, caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, are almost identical to the symptoms after an infection with the cytomegaly virus. While mononucleosis can in principle only be experienced once, the cytomegaly virus can be reactivated many times. So if there is a suspicion of a recurrence of mononucleosis, there may be an infection with the cytomegaly virus.

Cytomegaly virus and routes of infection

Cytomegaly literally means large cell virus because the infection causes the cells to swell. The cytomegaly virus belongs to the herpes viruses and, like other herpes viruses, remains latent in the body. Almost everyone comes into contact with the virus in their lives. Infections with the cytomegaly virus occur all over the world. Infection occurs through direct or indirect contact with infected body fluids such as saliva, urine, semen, breast milk or blood. During pregnancy, the cytomegaly virus can be transmitted from mother to child. If the mother experiences a first active infection during pregnancy or if there is a reactivation of a latent infection, there is a chance that the child will become infected via the placenta. Infection during pregnancy can lead to abnormalities in the child at birth, such as low birth weight, liver and spleen enlargement, jaundice, eye problems and neurological problems. And at a later stage, a motor or mental delay or deafness may become apparent.

Disease symptoms and diagnosis

In general, infection with the cytomegaly virus occurs without symptoms. Symptoms of the disease mainly occur in newborns, adolescents between the ages of 15 and 20 and people with low resistance. The symptoms are comparable to the symptoms of glandular fever, namely fever, fatigue, lymph node enlargement, feeling of general malaise, joint and muscle pain and/or headache. Diagnosis usually takes place via virus culture from blood or urine. There is no treatment for the disease other than taking rest. The complaints often go away on their own after a few weeks. The Epstein-Barr virus has been linked to the development of a number of forms of cancer or Multiple Sclerosis. This is not the case with cytomegaly virus.

Immunity and prevention

The cytomegaly virus remains latent in the body after an initial infection. The antibodies produced during a previous infection do not provide protection against a new infection with the cytomegaly virus. Particularly when resistance is reduced, the chance of reactivation of the virus is greater. If there is a suspicion that glandular fever is occurring (again), it can also be checked whether there is a possible infection with the cytomegaly virus. Given that a large part of the population is infected with the cytomegaly virus, it can be assumed that anyone can spread the virus and that all bodily fluids can potentially be contaminated. Measures to combat infections are impossible to implement in daily life and are not necessary. Good hand hygiene is the only way to limit the risk of contamination.

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