Kimberley Walsh, Rufus Hound and Dr. Miriam have become patrons of CMV ACTION , a charity dedicated to raising awareness of and, ultimately, eradicating a killer virus that affects 1 in 1000 newborn babies in the UK each year. CMV, or Cytomegalovirus, is a common virus that can infect people of all ages.
I was not really aware of the dangers of CMV but am happy that this campaign has made me wiser and I hope that by sharing this, I can raise awareness of the dangers and steps that can be taken to stop the spread.
Once CMV is in a person’s body, it stays there for life. Most healthy adults and children will have no signs or symptoms, and no long-term effects. However, it can be very dangerous to unborn babies. Congenital CMV is one of the main causes of children being born with birth defects in the UK.
Pregnant women are more at risk because, if they catch the virus, it can cause a number of birth defects in their developing baby. CMV is the most common infection at birth. Around 1 in 1000 babies born in the UK will be damaged by CMV – that’s nearly 1000 babies every year. As CMV is unheard of, it is a common misconception that it is rare. It is, in fact, more common than Down’s Syndrome, Toxoplasmosis, Spina Bifida and Rubella.
What is CMV?
CMV is a “stealth virus” which works by evading the immune system, so developing a vaccine has not been easy. However, international experts and government representatives are now positive it can be done. Once you catch it, you have it in your body for life but it doesn’t protect you from catching a different strain of the virus. The virus is spread through saliva, nasal discharge, and other bodily fluids, yet with awareness and simple precautions, a pregnant woman can greatly reduce the risk to herself and her unborn child.
Kimberley Walsh’s friend, Lisa, has a son, Christian, who was diagnosed with Congenital Cytomegalovirus shortly after being born, which has left him profoundly deaf and autistic.
Commenting on her decision to become a Patron of CMV Action, Kimberley Walsh said: “For me, it’s personal, especially now being pregnant myself. The CMV virus affected my friend’s son, which means he has permanent disabilities. I have always wanted to do something for Christian and particularly the charity CMV Action, set up to support families affected by CMV and to raise awareness of the CMV virus. Congenital CMV is one of the main causes of children being born with birth defects in the UK but pregnant women are not routinely told about it, nor the simple steps they can take to protect themselves.”
Help get the message out by creating your own “Wash Away CMV” pictures. Simply write “wash away CMV” on your hand, take a photo and share it. Together we can get the message out about the simple hygiene precautions that can save babies’ lives. Email your photos direct to firstname.lastname@example.org, post them to their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/CMVAction , or tweet your photo using the hashtag #washawaycmv and @cmvactionuk
How to reduce the risk of CMV?
Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post. I think it is important that we are more aware of CMV and save lives.