3 health facts that might surprise you

Many of us are better informed about health issues these days. However, there are many viruses or infections that you might not be aware of, cytomegalovirus or CMV being one of them. Here are three facts that might surprise you about this virus:

  1. You might have a virus without knowing it
    While we all get sick from time to time, you might not always be aware of a virus you have. That’s usually not a problem since your immune system did its job and fought off the illness. For example, about 40 to 50 per cent of Canadian adults have been exposed to CMV, at some point in their life, yet many have never heard of it. That’s because a healthy immune system can typically keep it under control.
  2. Some viruses can reactivate long after illness
    You might have heard of shingles as a reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox. CMV is another virus that can re-activate long after a previous infection. CMV is often contracted during infancy, known as neonatal infection, although some babies are born with it, called congenital infection, if the mother had an infection during pregnancy. In very young babies it can sometimes cause developmental delays. Fortunately, many provinces are now implementing newborn screening programs for the virus to ensure these issues are caught early and treated.
  3. These viruses are a major risk for transplant patients
    Catching CMV after birth generally poses little problem for those of us with a healthy immune system. However, for those who are immunocompromised, there can be major health risks such as muscle or joint pain and blood disorders. People who receive an organ transplant are particularly at risk, as they take medications that suppress their immune system to help stop their body from rejecting the new organ. With a weakened immune system, it’s harder for their body to fight off a CMV infection. It is also possible an infection that has remained dormant since childhood has re-surfaced due to a weak immune system.

If you or someone you love is undergoing transplant surgery, talk to your doctor to learn more about CMV.

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