Survival of CMV on Environmental Surfaces and Risk to Pregnant Women

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´╗┐Survival of CMV on Environmental Surfaces and Risk to Pregnant Women
Today's topic is cytomegalovirus (CMV) and its ability to survive on environmental surfaces.

Congenital CMV occurs in about 1 in 150 births. It is the most common cause of hearing loss and intellectual disability. One of the biggest risks is exposure of pregnant women to CMV, the source of which is believed to be young children. It has been postulated that transmission of CMV can occur from contaminated surfaces.

In an interesting study by colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, investigators took the CMV strain AD169, mixed it with filtered human saliva, and applied this to a variety of environmental surfaces. Then they attempted recovery using both culture and polymerase chain reaction. Viable CMV was found on metal and wood for up to 1 hour; on glass and plastic for up to 3 hours; and on rubber, cloth, and crackers for up to 6 hours. CMV was cultured from 83 of 90 (92%) wet surfaces. In contrast, CMV was recovered from 5 of 40 (13%) dry surfaces. These researchers also found that highly absorbent materials were much more likely to be positive for CMV. These data show that CMV in saliva can survive on many surfaces for long periods of time and potentially pose a risk for transmission.

Women who are pregnant should be educated about CMV and the risk for acquiring CMV. They should be taught to wash their hands after they have contact with children's saliva or with toys or other materials that may have had contact with children's saliva. They should clean surfaces around children, particularly young children who may be putting toys or other objects in their mouths. Clean those surfaces, and avoid contact with saliva when kissing young children.

This is a very interesting study that shows that CMV (although this was a laboratory strain) can survive for long periods of time in the inanimate environment and potentially pose a risk for congenital CMV infection in pregnancy.

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