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If you are healthy and you get cytomegalovirus (CMV), you may not have any symptoms.

If you do have symptoms, they will be flu-like symptoms. Symptoms usually get better on their own within 3 weeks.

Non-urgent advice: Speak to your GP if you are pregnant and you have flu-like symptoms, including:

  • fever - a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above
  • feeling tired or generally unwell
  • sore throat
  • swollen glands
  • aches and pains
  • sweating at night time

Flu and symptoms of flu

Symptoms of CMV if you have a weak immune system

There are many things that can cause a weak immune system, including:

  • treatment for cancer or for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS) or
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • HIV
  • having an organ transplant or a bone marrow transplant

If you have a weak immune system, a CMV infection that reoccurs can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above
  • diarrhoea
  • shortness of breath
  • large painful ulcers in the mouth and oesophagus (gullet)
  • blind spots or blurred vision - this could be caused by retinitis (inflammation of the back of the eye)
  • floaters - small dark dots or squiggly lines floating in your field of vision
  • cough, shortness of breath or chest pain – these are also symptoms of pneumonia

Warning signs to watch out for during pregnancy

Common illnesses

Symptoms of congenital CMV at birth

The signs and symptoms of congenital CMV at birth can range from mild-to-severe and include:

  • jaundice
  • low birth weight
  • a rash – especially if it has small purplish spots
  • pneumonia
  • enlarged liver
  • seizures (fits or convulsions)
  • microcephaly (your baby's head measurements are smaller than expected)

Some of these signs are common in newborn babies. If your baby develops these signs, it does not always mean they have CMV.

About 60,000 babies are born every year in Ireland. Between 150 to 450 are born with congenital CMV. Most babies born with CMV won’t develop any long-term problems, but a small number will.

While the risk is low, congenital CMV can also result in miscarriagepreterm delivery or stillbirth.

Treatment for cytomegalovirus (CMV) in pregnancy and babies

Long-term problems of congenital CMV

Your baby may be born with obvious symptoms of CMV. If so, they are more likely to develop moderate-to-severe long-term problems.

These symptoms include:

  • hearing loss
  • visual impairment
  • blindness
  • intellectual delay or learning difficulties
  • speech and language delay
  • cerebral palsy (problems with movement, motor skills and muscle tone) and other motor function problems
  • epilepsy

Congenital CMV and the central nervous system

Congenital CMV affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

All newborn babies have a number of routine clinical tests and screening tests. 

In addition to the routine checks all babies have, babies with congenital CMV will have:

  • an examination of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) with a brain scan
  • a hearing assessment
  • an eye examination

Related topic

Newborn screening

Page last reviewed: 12 February 2024
Next review due: 12 February 2027

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.