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Cytomegalovirus

Overview

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.

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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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.