is a common virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), it infects between 50 to
80 percent of all adults by the time they reach 40 years old. Usually, CMV doesn’t
cause any symptoms or health problems. It will remain in your body in a latent
form. This means the virus is present but not causing any symptoms. If you
develop health problems that weaken your immune system, CMV may become active.
It can then become an acute infection.
Your doctor can use the CMV serology test to check your
blood for antibodies to CMV. If you’ve been infected with CMV, you will have
elevated CMV antibody levels.
Is the CMV Test Ordered?
Your doctor can order a CMV test to learn if you currently
have an active CMV infection or have had one in the past. They can also use it to
learn if treatment for an active CMV infection is working.
Your doctor may order the test if you have a compromised immune
system, or you’re pregnant, and you have symptoms such as:
- sore throat
- swelling in your lymph nodes
- muscle aches
Viruses that cause the flu or mononucleosis, such as the
Epstein-Barr virus, can also cause these symptoms.
Your doctor may order a CMV test for your newborn baby, if
they have the following symptoms:
- yellowing of their skin or eyes, known as jaundice
- enlarged spleen or liver
- hearing or vision problems
- delayed development
The test is also used as a screening tool for:
- people seeking an organ transplant
- organ donors
- egg and sperm donors
Is the CMV Test Administered?
The CMV serology test is performed using a blood sample. A
nurse or lab technician in a clinical setting usually takes this sample. Using
a small needle, they collect blood from a vein in your arm or hand. Then they
send your blood sample to a lab for analysis. Your doctor will explain your
results when they become available.
No preparation is needed for this test.
Are the Risks of the CMV Test?
The risks of a CMV test are minimal. You may experience some
discomfort when your blood sample is drawn. You may have pain at the puncture
site during or after the test.
Other potential risks of a blood draw include:
- difficulty obtaining a sample, resulting in
multiple needle sticks
- excessive bleeding at the needle site
- fainting as a result of blood loss
- accumulation of blood under your skin, known as
- infection at the puncture site
the CMV Test Results
A negative test means you have no CMV antibodies in your
blood. This suggests you’ve never been infected with CMV. It may also indicate
that you’re immunocompromised, which means you have a weakened immune system,
and it can’t make antibodies against the virus.
Low levels of CMV antibodies indicate exposure to CMV.
However, they don’t reveal when you were infected. Your doctor will need to
review your results in conjunction with your symptoms to determine if you have
an active infection.
When the test is used to monitor treatment efficacy, your
doctor will look for a decline in the amount of CMV antibodies in your blood over
time. Treatment lowers viral levels, so your antibody levels should decline as
well if the treatment is working.
CMV Test Is Low-Risk and Simple
The CMV test is a low-risk procedure that involves a simple
blood draw. You don’t need to take any special steps to prepare for it. Your
doctor can use it to learn if you have an active CMV infection or have had one
in the past. They can also use it to monitor your progress if you’ve received treatment
for a CMV infection.