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Pregnancy & Newborns

Cytomegalovirus (Urine)

Does this test have other names?

CMV test

What is this test?

This is a urine test for cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common virus that belongs to the herpes family. It is so widespread that most people in the U.S. have been infected by the time they reach age 40, although many don't realize it. You can pick up the virus by handling or exchanging bodily fluids, such as saliva, blood, urine, breast milk, and semen. The virus usually causes only a mild illness, but it can do serious harm to unborn children, people with HIV/AIDS, or others with a weak immune system.

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if you have unexplained symptoms that resemble the flu. If you've been infected with the virus, you may have these symptoms:

  • Tiredness and weakness

  • Night sweats

  • Muscle pain

  • Sore throat

  • Swollen glands

  • Loss of appetite

You may even think you have mononucleosis, an infectious illness that leaves many people temporarily bedridden.

Your healthcare provider may also order this test if you develop a mononucleosis-like illness during pregnancy. This is because pregnant women exposed to the virus can miscarry or pass along the virus to the fetus. Although most unborn children exposed to CMV are born healthy or with only mild symptoms, exposure to the virus raises the risk for nervous system defects, hearing loss, and other problems later in life. If you test positive for the virus, your healthcare provider can take steps to protect you and your baby.

Babies are often tested up to three weeks after they are born if their skin and eyes turn yellow, a sign of jaundice. This virus can also cause newborns to be born smaller or develop a lung infection and splotchy skin.

Your healthcare provider may also order this test if you are getting an organ transplant. Undetected herpes viruses, including CMV, are behind the failure of many kidney transplants. Many people who get organ transplants test positive for the virus, and up to 72% develop CMV infections.

You may also get a test for CMV if you have symptoms of CMV infection and HIV/AIDS, because your weakened immune system leaves you open to other illnesses. If you have HIV/AIDS and develop an infection caused by CMV, you may suffer severe symptoms, such as pneumonia, diarrhea, bleeding ulcers in your throat or stomach, and even blindness or swelling in the brain.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your healthcare provider may order a liver test to see whether your liver is working properly. People with this virus often get their blood tested as well. A high white blood cell count in a blood test may be a sign that you have the virus.

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you. 

Your test is positive if a culture from your urine sample can produce, or "grow," the virus. Talk with your healthcare provider about what a positive result means. You can usually limit and reverse the effects of CMV with treatment.

How is this test done?

This test needs you to give a urine sample.

Does this test pose any risks?

This test poses no known risks.

How do I get ready for this test?

Make sure to drink enough fluids to be able to give a urine sample. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.

Online Medical Reviewer: Haldeman-Englert, Chad, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Walton-Ziegler, Olivia, MS, PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2017
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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