June is observed as National Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness month in the United States. The annual event is dedicated to raise public awareness about the significant effects of congenital cytomegalovirus. It aims to prevent and eliminate CMV present at birth and to improve the lives of all people affected by this disease.
National Congenital CMV Awareness month was first recognized as an event after legislation was officially passed by the United States Senate. The month-long campaign is intended to spread the word about the negative health effects of this deadly virus to infected persons and those living around them and to increase treatment availability for this condition.
Cytomegalovirus is one of the most common congenital viral infections that can occur during pregnancy or the peri-partum period. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point out that about 1 in 150 children is born with congenital CMV causing permanent disabilities such as deafness, cerebral palsy, blindness, mental and physical disabilities and seizures.
Most cases of congenital CMV develop when a pregnant woman gets infected by the virus for the first time during or shortly before pregnancy. On the other hand, in some cases a previously inactive infection can reoccur at the time of pregnancy as a result of the mother having a weakened immune system.
It is estimated that about one third of women who get infected with CMV for the first time during pregnancy pass the virus to their unborn baby. In most cases, the virus is acquired during infancy and childhood through body fluids such as blood, saliva, urine, semen and breast milk. A large amount of the virus spread to the baby can significantly affect the child’s normal development. The associated signs and symptoms include hearing loss, jaundice, pneumonia, visual impairment, yellow-colored skin, rash of small, purplish spots, small head size, low birth weight, enlarged spleen and seizures.
Most CMV infections present at birth require continuous monitoring and treatment by a specialist. Infectious disease specialists play a prominent role in spreading awareness about this virus infection present at birth and the need for effectively treating this condition. In most cases, lack of knowledge about this type of infection may result in lapse in providing specialized care to children suffering from this disease. Physicians can create more awareness about the harmful effects of congenital CMV and different treatment methods available for the same.
For pregnant women, regular testing and screening is important to determine whether they have been infected with CMV. Generally, in a newborn baby with CMV, the infection can be easily detected by culturing or by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test from blood, other body fluids, or a tissue biopsy. In such cases, the physician will perform a thorough physical examination of the newborn to see if there are any specific symptoms of the infection. They will check for abnormal breathing sounds indicating pneumonia. The treatment methods for congenital CMV may vary and depend on the symptoms and their severity.
Specialists providing different treatments must report the same on their medical claims using the correct medical codes. It is important for physicians to have adequate knowledge about the various procedural codes when carrying out medical coding activities. The ICD codes that are used to report this condition are
- 771.1 – Congenital cytomegalovirus infection
- P35.1 – Congenital cytomegalovirus infection
Even though congenital CMV can be asymptomatic, this is a serious condition that should be treated carefully. In most cases, many people are not fully aware about the virus infection and different complications associated with the same.
Let National Congenital CMV Awareness month be an occasion to spread knowledge about this virus and share vital information that can be helpful for infected people as well as those around them.