Risk Reduction


Without a vaccine against CMV, reducing the risks of transmission is the most important thing that we can all do.

This section explains the simple hygiene precautions that you and early years settings can take to help prevent the infection spreading.

How can I reduce the risk of infection whilst I’m pregnant?

There are ways you can reduce the risk of infection whilst you are pregnant. Although it may be hard to avoid all possible exposures to CMV, by making a few recommended changes, you can help protect your unborn baby from infection.

Does hand sanitiser reduce risks?

If you cannot get to a sink, then alcohol based hand sanitiser is a good alternative. While it won’t completely remove the CMV virus, it will render it non-viable. Wet-wipes are not effective at removing or de-activating CMV.

Can I reduce my risk of CMV infection during IVF?

The UK professional body guidelines recommend that sperm, egg and embryo donors should be screened for CMV antibodies. This will show if they have been infected with CMV before or currently have an active infection. People found to have an active infection are recommended to defer donation.

These guidelines note that it is preferable to recruit CMV negative donors, who have never had the infection. However, when there aren’t enough CMV negative donors (because most people catch CMV at some point in their lives), CMV positive donors should be used with CMV positive recipients. As the evidence is not clear cut, the recommendation about whether to  use a CMV positive donor should be a matter of clinical and personal judgement.

Is there a vaccine against CMV?

There is no licensed vaccine against CMV at this time. However, research is being conducted on the safety and effectiveness of different experimental CMV vaccines.

I am a nursery worker and am pregnant. Am I at risk?

People who work in nurseries appear to be at greater risk than health professionals who work with small children in hospital and healthcare settings. This may be partly due to the increased focus on infection control in healthcare settings.

You can reduce your risk by following simple hygiene precautions that are common in hospitals and should already be part of good practice in nurseries:

  • Use gloves to change nappies or help children go to the toilet.
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water, especially after changing nappies or coming into contact with bodily fluids.
  • Wash toys regularly, especially after they have come into contact with urine or saliva.
  • Avoid sharing cutlery, drinks or food with children. Do not put dummies into your mouth.
  • Avoid kissing babies, toddlers and small children directly on the mouth. Kiss them on the head instead or give them a big hug.

There is no need to stay away from work or move to another setting. Everyday contact with children poses no risk. Following the guidelines above should reduce your exposure to their bodily fluids and reduce your risk of catching CMV.


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