Cytomegalovirus Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

The cytomegalovirus or CMV is a virus that is a member of the herpes viruses. These viruses also include variants like varicella, herpes simplex, and the Epstein-Barr virus. The CMV virus is one of the least infective viruses and though they exist in the body, they do not really cause any noticeable symptoms in many people. This is an interesting evolutionary strategy of the virus that has resulted in its proliferation throughout humanity because of its peaceful co-existence with man. However, there are some diseases that can sprout in some individuals that are immunocompromised or with babies. CMV infection usually causes diseases like the mumps, infectious mononucleosis, and some glandular infections. The detection of cytomegalovirus is performed by an assay or even culture samples.

Reasons for Cytomegalovirus Test

CMV testing is done mostly in the case of immunocompromised individuals and in pregnant mothers. Nearly all pregnant mothers will pass this virus on to their babies through bodily fluids, especially breast milk. The infection in most cases will cause no symptoms or disease and to that effect is not dangerous, but the problem actually is when an infected mother gets a reactivation of the virus when pregnant. Herpes viruses all have the ability to remain in a state of suspended animation in the body till the death of an individual. CMV has the ability to actually reactivate every now and then and go into a phase of reproduction called shedding. The reactivation and shedding of the virus can cause transmission to the fetus and can cause birth defects.


Testing for CMV can be done by using a body fluid sample and testing using polymerase chain reaction methods. Alternatively, a culture sample can also be created and then stained. There is a much faster test that can be done called the CMVpp65 antigenemia test, which is a very specific assay for the virus.


There is absolutely no preparation that you need to do for the test as the test is for an infection that already exists in the body. Getting a positive result can really mean nothing for normal life though there is some evidence that the presence of CMV causes susceptibility to some diseases later in life like atherosclerosis. It can also be problematic if virus reactivation occurs in the elderly. This usually does occur and can cause fevers and a general state of malaise.