Cytomegalovirus, IgM antibodies
Why this test?
For the diagnosis of acute cytomegalovirus infection.
In what cases is it prescribed?
With immunodeficiency (in particular, with HIV infection).
When a person with normal immunity has symptoms of mononucleosis (if the tests did not reveal the Epstein-Barr virus).
If CMV infection is suspected in newborn children.
During pregnancy: with symptoms of the disease, if the ultrasound revealed a violation of the development of the fetus, for screening.
CMV infection in pregnant women is often asymptomatic. However, in some cases, the temperature rises, the lymph nodes, liver and/or spleen increase.
With immunodeficiency, the symptoms of CMV infection can be quite diverse: from general malaise to retinitis, colitis, encephalitis, etc. A newborn can be tested if the child has: jaundice, anemia, enlarged spleen and/or liver, head size is smaller than normal, there is a hearing or vision impairment, have neurological disorders (mental retardation, convulsions).
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) belongs to the family of herpes viruses. Just like other representatives of this group, it can be stored in a person throughout his life. In healthy people with normal immunity, the primary infection proceeds without complications (and often without symptoms). However, cytomegalovirus is dangerous during pregnancy (for the child) and immunodeficiency.
Cytomegalovirus can be infected through various biological fluids: saliva, urine, semen, blood. In addition, it is transmitted from mother to child (during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding). As a rule, cytomegalovirus infection is asymptomatic. Sometimes the disease resembles infectious mononucleosis: the temperature rises, the throat hurts, and the lymph nodes increase.
In the future, the virus is stored inside the cells in an inactive state. But if the body is weakened, the virus will start multiplying again. It is important for a woman to know whether she has been infected with CMV in the past, because this determines whether there is a risk of complications during pregnancy. If she was previously infected, the risk is minimal.
An exacerbation of an old infection may occur during pregnancy, but this form usually does not cause serious consequences. If a woman has not yet had CMV, then she is at risk and should pay special attention to the prevention of cytomegalovirus infection. It is the infection that the mother contracted for the first time during pregnancy that is dangerous for the child. With primary infection in a pregnant woman, the virus often enters the child's body. This does not mean that the child will get sick. As a rule, CMV infection is asymptomatic. However, in approximately 10% of cases, it leads to congenital pathologies: microcephaly, cerebral calcification, rash and enlargement of the spleen and liver. This is often accompanied by a decrease in intelligence and deafness, and even death is possible.
Thus, it is important for the expectant mother to know whether she has been infected with CMV in the past. If so, the risk of complications due to possible CMV becomes insignificant. If not, special care should be taken during pregnancy: avoid unprotected sex, do not come into contact with another person's saliva (do not kiss, do not use shared dishes, toothbrushes, etc.), observe hygiene rules when playing with children (wash hands if saliva or urine gets on them), take a test for CMV with signs of general malaise. In addition, cytomegalovirus poses a danger when the immune system is weakened (for example, due to immunosuppressants or HIV).
In AIDS, CMV occurs in a severe form and is a frequent cause of death of patients. The main symptoms of cytomegalovirus: inflammation of the retina (which can lead to blindness), colitis (inflammation of the colon), esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus), neurological disorders (encephalitis, etc.). The production of antibodies is one of the ways to fight against a viral infection. There are several classes of antibodies (IgG, IgM, IgA, etc.) that differ in their functions.
Immunoglobulins M (IgM) usually appear in the blood first (earlier than antibodies of other types). Then their number gradually decreases (this process can last several months). If the latent infection worsens, the IgM level will rise again. Thus, IgM are detected: with primary infection (in this case, the IgM level is the highest), in case of exacerbation of the disease (as well as in case of reinfection, i.e. infection with a new form of the virus).