Treating cytomegalovirus (CMV) 

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections only usually require treatment if there's a risk of serious complications.

Most CMV infections don't cause any symptoms and don't need to be treated.

If you have symptoms after being infected with CMV for the first time, over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can help relieve the symptoms of pain and fever (however, children younger than 16 shouldn't take aspirin).

Drinking plenty of water will help relieve the symptoms of a fever and sore throat, and will prevent dehydration.

Antiviral medicines

Antiviral medicine may be needed to treat congenital CMV or active CMV in someone with a weakened immune system.

This medicine can't cure the infection, but it can slow its progress and limit the possibility of serious damage.

Ganciclovir (Cymevene) is an antiviral medicine often used to treat CMV. An oral form called valganciclovir (Valcyte) is often used. However, it can't be prescribed during pregnancy.

Ganciclovir can cause several side effects, the main one being bone marrow suppression. Bone marrow is the spongy material at the centre of some bones. It produces the stem cells that produce blood cells and platelets.

Suppressed bone marrow can lead to a low white blood cell count, which increases the risk of serious bacterial infection. Low levels of platelets can cause increased bleeding, and a lack of red blood cells can cause anaemia, which may lead to severe tiredness.

Other possible antiviral medicines include foscarnet (Foscavir) and cidofovir (Vistide).

A course of antiviral medicine will usually be prescribed for a minimum of 14 days.

Hospital treatment

A baby born with congenital CMV may need to stay in hospital until their normal organ function returns. They will also need to stay in hospital if they're being treated with the antiviral medicine ganciclovir, at least when treatment is first started.

Once the baby is well enough to go home, the course of treatment can be completed with valganciclovir. In many cases, valganciclovir can be given from the start of the treatment.

Your baby should also have regular hearing and eye tests to check for any problems.

Adults with a weakened immune system and organ damage from CMV may need to be admitted to hospital for treatment.


Page last reviewed: 17/11/2014

Next review due: 17/11/2016