Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month resolution unanimously adopted in House

PHILADELPHIA, June 8 – A resolution (H.R. 372) sponsored by state Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., designating June 2017 as Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month in Pennsylvania was unanimously adopted by the House of Representatives.

The state recognition coincides with National Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month.

CMV is a common virus that infects people of all ages and remains with a person for life. Over half of all adults living with CMV are infected by age 40. Most people show no signs of CMV, and if they do, symptoms are often mild.

However, CMV can cause serious health problems to those with weakened immune systems, as well as babies infected with the virus before they are born. Pregnant women can contract CMV and the virus can be passed down to the baby. CMV is the most common congenital infection in the United States with one in every 150 babies being born with congenital CMV each year. More than 5,000 of these babies will develop permanent problems such as hearing loss, vision loss or developmental disabilities. An estimated 400 babies die each year from the infection. CMV causes more long-term health problems than Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and spina bifida.

“This is a serious public health issue and I am glad that my colleagues have unanimously adopted the resolution,” Cruz said. “Countless babies die each year from CMV and designating June 2017 as CMV Awareness Month in Pennsylvania will raise more awareness of the virus. This may encourage people to take more caution to prevent the spread of the virus as well as get tested.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, regular hand washing, particularly after changing diapers, is a commonly recommended step to decrease the spread of infections, and may reduce exposure to CMV. The CDC has an informational page at www.cdc.gov/cmv/overview.html.

According to the National CMV Foundation, only 9 percent of women have heard of CMV. In addition, only 44 percent of obstetrician-gynecologists counsel women about CMV and prevention measures. Public policy on CMV can provide greater access to resources and funding for awareness and prevention campaigns. In March, Cruz introduced legislation (H.B. 746) that would require the state Department of Health to provide educational information regarding CMV and require testing of CMV in newborns.