What is CMV?
CMV stands for cytomegalovirus. It is a virus that can be transmitted to a developing fetus before birth. It is a member of the herpes family of viruses that include mono and chickenpox. The CDC states that nearly 1 in 3 children are already infected with CMV by the age of 5, and by the age of 40 over half of the population is infected.
Primary CMV infection occurs in people who have never been exposed to the CMV virus before. Once a person becomes infected with CMV, the virus remains alive but dormant inside that person’s body for the rest of their lives. Recurrent CMV infection, is when a dormant virus become active again. CMV infection is usually harmless and rarely causes illness. However, for pregnant women, primary CMV infection can cause more serious problems than recurrent CMV infection.
CMV and Using a CMV Donor:
The FDA requires that CMV testing be performed on all men who intend to donate sperm. A positive result however, doesn’t necessarily mean that a man will be ineligible to donate. Cryobank America will obtain semen samples from potential donors and then quarantine those specimens for at least six months. During that time, the man may have CMV antibody levels tested several times. If the antibody tests indicate the possibility of a CMV infection close to the time of the sperm donation, the man will not be allowed to donate those specimens. If the testing is uncertain, those men will also not be allowed to donate those specimens. However, if a donor tests positive for CMV IgG only, indicating a past infection, he will be allowed to donate. Those samples will be labeled in the Cryobank America database as CMV positive.
A woman who is considering pregnancy with donor semen should have CMV antibody testing as part of their IDT. Those who have had a past infection are at very low risk of transmitting CMV infection to a fetus. And are at little to no risk if they decide to use a CMV positive donor. Women who have never been exposed to CMV should consider using a CMV negative donor. Even though the risk from a CMV positive donor is low it is impossible to determine whether there will be risk for infection.
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