According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Cytomegalovirus (pronounced sy-toe-MEG-a-low-vy-rus), or CMV, is a common virus that infects people of all ages. Over half of adults have been infected with CMV by age 40." Most people infected with CMV may not show signs or symptoms and not even know they have the virus.
Healthy people who are infected with CMV usually do not require medical treatment. However, as stated in kidshealth.org, “Once a person has the infection, the virus stays in the body, lying dormant (not active). It can become ‘reactivated’ (come back) weeks or years later. In people with very weakened immune systems, the reactivated virus may cause serious illness. Most people, though, will not get symptoms of CMV again.”
Because Cytomegalovirus is spread by bodily fluids and can therefore be transmitted in blood transfusions, all OneBlood donors are tested to see if they are positive or negative for CMV.
This additional test for CMV is just one more layer of safety for immunocompromised blood recipients. These results are posted in the Donor Profile of our internal records but are not listed in the donor’s online portal.
So, if you are curious as to whether you are positive or negative for CMV, please ask us next time you register at one of our Donor Centers or a Big Red Bus to donate blood.
Since most adults are already positive for this virus, they can receive blood transfusions from other positive CMV donors. However, for newborns and patients who have weakened immune systems, CMV negative blood products are required.
The Mayo Clinic reports, “Women who develop an active CMV infection during pregnancy can pass the virus to their babies, who might then experience symptoms. For people who have weakened immune systems, especially people who have had an organ, stem cell or bone marrow transplant, CMV infection can be fatal.”