This is a virus that most of us are exposed to—one that is likely to shorten your life, and that can destroy it. But you may not even have heard of it.
Between 20,000 and 40,000 infants are born with cytomegalovirus (CMV) each year, and the virus kills 400 of those infants annually. These numbers compare with 1,600 babies exposed to Zika in the continental US in 2016. Twenty percent of infants born with CMV develop permanent disabilities such as hearing loss, microcephaly (a condition where the baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected), vision abnormalities, and intellectual deficits. It is the most common congenital viral infection and the leading non-genetic cause of deafness in children.
If you don’t get this virus in utero, you are lucky, but you are not out of the woods. Half of adults have been exposed by age 40. Like all viruses, it remains inside the body even after the illness has passed. Like other herpes viruses, it tries to come back, and challenges the immune system in order to do so. Because it is such a big and damaging virus, all the challenges over the years eventually take their toll. Eventually the immune system is worn down by the constant challenge. It has been estimated that the lives of those exposed are shortened on average by four years.
As bad as this is for adults, the risks for babies is much greater. Conventional doctors are way behind the ball in warning women about the dangers. Less than half of obstetrician-gynecologists tell pregnant patients how to mitigate the risks of CMV, which include hand-washing after diaper-changing, not sharing utensils with children in daycare, and other such measures. Could this negligence be due to the fact that there is no vaccine or drug to treat the virus? You might ask, “If there is no drug to treat it, why bother?” Yet studies have shown that a simple discussion about CMV resulted in fewer women contracting the virus.
It should surprise no one that some in the public health community are recommending antiviral drugs for infected infants. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine seems to endorse that view, finding that infants who took antiviral drugs for six months had “moderately better” hearing than newborns who took the drugs for just six weeks. The CMV antiviral drug, of course, comes with a host of nasty side effects: tremors, nausea, and diarrhea are among those acknowledged. Why let a few nasty side effects and a moderate benefit get in the way of selling more drugs, right? And of course there has been no testing of such drugs on children.
There are natural ways of dealing with CMV and other viruses, including silver and ozone, and also natural supplements to deal with the associated inflammation—which may ultimately be what kills the patient, as it was in the famous Spanish flu epidemic. These include fish oil, resveratrol, curcumin, cherry extract, green tea extract, and many others. Of course, these therapies don’t make money for the drug companies, so don’t expect conventional doctors to discuss them with you.
Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health: