This Virus Is a Bigger Threat than Zika
Most people have heard of Zika virus and the devastating birth defects it can cause. However, fewer know about cytomegalovirus, or CMV, which is a much bigger threat to newborn babies in the U.S.
Each year in the United States, 20,000 to 40,000 infants are born with CMV. At least 20 percent of newborns who were exposed to the virus in utero—about 8,000 babies a year—are born with or will develop permanent disabilities. Cytomegalovirus can cause profound hearing loss, vision problems, intellectual deficits, and microcephaly.
There is no vaccine or treatment, and the virus causes about 400 deaths a year. CMV is a herpesvirus that is often transmitted through saliva and urine. Pregnant women can get virus from toddlers—especially in a day care setting. In most people, the virus causes only mild symptoms, but—like Zika—infection can be devastating to a fetus. Frequent handwashing, especially after diaper changes, and not sharing food or eating utensils can help prevent transmission of CMV.
Image Credit: Thinkstock