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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, including kissing or having sex. 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?

Your doctor might order the 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

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

Your doctor 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 doctor 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 doctor 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. An estimated 36 to 100 percent of people who get organ transplants test positive for the virus, and up to 72 percent 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 doctor 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?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

Your test is positive if a culture from your urine sample can produce, or "grow," the virus. Talk with your doctor 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 requires 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. In addition, be sure your doctor 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.