Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Cytomegalovirus

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Cytomegalovirus Menu

Overview

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common, but little known, virus. In adults, CMV typically causes few, or very minor, symptoms, but can cause serious birth defects in infants born to women infected during pregnancy.

CMV is present in many body fluids, including urine, saliva, tears, mucus, breastmilk, and blood. It can spread through direct, prolonged contact with these body fluids, especially from babies and young children.

About 40,000 pregnant women become infected every year in the United States.1 Pregnant women can pass the CMV infection to their unborn babies. Many babies born with CMV infections have no symptoms and live normal, healthy lives. However, some CMV-infected babies may experience mental, behavioral, and physical developmental issues.2

This page provides information about CMV for workers and employers, including infection prevention measures for:

  • Childcare workers
  • Healthcare workers
  • Workers who are pregnant or may become pregnant and their sexual partners

The page includes sections on:

Background

Describes CMV and when it was first discovered.

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Hazard Recognition

Provides information to help workers and employers recognize possible sources of CMV exposure.

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Medical Information

Discusses the details of CMV infection, including how the virus is spread, symptoms of infection, and options for testing.

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Standards

Highlights OSHA standards and directives and other related information that may apply to possible worker exposure to CMV.

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Control and Prevention

Provides general guidelines for protecting workers from exposure to CMV, along with specific information for childcare and healthcare workers and employers.

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Additional Resources

Provides links and references to additional resources related to CMV.

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Workers' Rights

Workers have the right to:

  • Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
  • Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
  • Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.

For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.

How to Contact OSHA

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.

Quick Facts

  • Childcare and healthcare workers are among those at increased risk for exposure to cytomegalovirus (CMV).
  • CMV can cause serious birth defects in infants born to women infected during pregnancy.
  • People infected by CMV may have minor flu-like symptoms; however, 90% of adults show no symptoms at all.
  • CMV is a member of the herpesvirus family. 
  • There is no recognized vaccine or treatment for CMV infection.
  • CMV may reactivate after long dormant periods.
  • 8% - 20% of childcare staff are infected with CMV each year.
  • 40% - 70% of childcare staff have evidence of a prior infection.

1 Adler, S. P. (2015). Prevention of Maternal–Fetal Transmission of Cytomegalovirus. EBioMedicine2(9), 1027-1028.

2 Congenital CMV Outcomes. (2018). National CMV Foundation.

Quick Facts

  • Childcare and healthcare workers are among those at increased risk for exposure to cytomegalovirus (CMV).
  • CMV can cause serious birth defects in infants born to women infected during pregnancy.
  • People infected by CMV may have minor flu-like symptoms; however, 90% of adults show no symptoms at all.
  • CMV is a member of the herpesvirus family. 
  • There is no recognized vaccine or treatment for CMV infection.
  • CMV may reactivate after long dormant periods.
  • 8% - 20% of childcare staff are infected with CMV each year.
  • 40% - 70% of childcare staff have evidence of a prior infection.
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