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Jon Martin martin.jd at worldnet.att.net
Thu Jan 1 14:26:07 EST 1998

Cytomegalovirus is a member of the Herpesvirus family, which includes,
among others, herpes simplex viruses (type I, most commonly causing
"fever blisters" (herpes labialis); type II, most commonly causing
"genital herpes" (herpes genitalis)), Epstein-Barr virus (infectious
mononucleosis), and varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox and shingles).
Cytomegalovirus gets its name from the damage it does to infected cells,
producing giant (megalo) cells (cytes) when infected cells "fuse" with
neighboring ones.  It causes the rare disease known as "cytomegalic
inclusion disease of newborns," an infection that can cause birth
defects or even death.  In some young adults who become infected, the
virus can produce a form of infectious mononucleosis.  More commonly
now, however, it produces organ-system diseases, such as pneumonia, in
immuno-compromised persons, persons who cannot fight off infections very
well.  Thus, cytomegalovirus is a major cause of death in AIDS
patients.  Like most of the other herpesviruses, it is very widespread
in the human population throughout the world because it is readily
transmitted from asymptomatic "carriers" and because it rarely produces
disease in the newly infected person.  It, like other herpesviruses,
establishes a latent, or silent, infection that can be periodically
reactivated, thereby causing infected persons to be unwitting "shedders"
of it.  It is transmitted by the respiratory route (sneezing and
coughing) and by any of the routes in which there is transmission of
bodily fluids (e.g., sexual intercourse, blood transfusion, organ
transplantation, shared needles among injected-drug users).  Currently,
there is no effective vaccine for it.

Jon Martin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor for Virology
Mercer University School of Medicine
martin_jd at mercer.edu

> I seek any information on CITOMEGALOVIRUS.
> alpha-eco at lite.eunet.es
> --
> Alberto Escayola Aparicio
> Barcelona-Spain

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