The Role of Cytomegalovirus in Congenital and Early Postnatal Infections in Northeastern Bulgaria

Zhivka D. Stoykova 1 , Lilia I. Ivanova 2  and Tatina T. Todorova 3
  • 1 Department of Microbiology and Virology, Medical University of Varna, Department of Clinical Virology, St. Marina University Hospital, Varna, Bulgaria
  • 2 Laboratory of Virology, St. Marina University Hospital, Varna, Bulgaria
  • 3 Department of Preclinical and Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, Medical University of Varna, Varna, Bulgaria


Background: Human cytomegalovirus is a ubiquitous, large enveloped DNA β-herpesvirus that, like other herpesviruses, establishes lifelong latency following primary infection. It is the most frequent cause of congenital, neonatal and early postnatal infections with long lasting sequelae.

Aim: The aim of the present study was to assess the prevalence of cytomegalovirus among a cohort of newborns and 1-3-month-old children with neurological symptoms, physical retardation, prolonged jaundice, thrombocytopenic purpura and other disabilities.

Materials and methods: The study was a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of serological screening data for detection of specific anti-cytomegalovirus IgM and IgG in children from Northeastern Bulgaria.

Results: Between 2003 and 2015, average prevalences of 18.8% (95% CI: 15.4 to 22.2) for anti-CMV IgM antibodies (suggesting acute infection) and 84.7% (95% CI: 81.6 to 87.8) for anti-CMV IgG antibodies were measured in a total number of 517 samples. The prevalence rate of anti-CMV IgM in 1-3-month-old children was 4-fold higher than that in newborns [25.8% (95% CI: 21.1 to 30.5) and 6.4% (95% CI: 2.9 to 9.9, respectively]. In contrast, no significant difference was found for anti- CMV IgG positivity between newborns and 1-3-month-old infants (84% and 85%, respectively).

Conclusions: The data obtained strongly encourage screening of pregnant women for anti-CMV IgG and IgM to avoid transmission of the infection and severe complications of congenital infection.

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