CYTOMEGALOVIRUS: New Infection Detected In COVID-19 Patients

As the world prepares to fight the emerging Delta Plus variant of the virus, India has reported it’s first five cases of Cytomegalovirus (CVM) in Covid-19 patients. Patients complained of rectal bleeding, blood in stools, pain or intestinal obstruction. According to the press release of Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, these patients were infected within 20-30 days of testing positive for COVID-19.

 

“During the second wave of COVID-19 in April-May 2021, we have seen five cases of CMV infection in otherwise immunocompetent patients with Covid-19. These patients presented with pain in abdomen and bleeding in stools. They presented with symptoms with a mean of 20-30 days after a Covid-19 diagnosis. None of them had other predisposing immunosuppressed states accounting for this viral infection,” said Dr Anil Arora, chairperson, Institute of Liver Gastroenterology and Pancreaticobiliary Sciences at Sir Ganga Ram hospital.

According to the official statement by the hospital, CVM exists in 80 – 90% of the Indian population, but our strong immunity makes it almost asymptomatic. “Cytomegalovirus exists in 80 to 90 percent of the Indian population in asymptomatic form as our immunity is strong enough to make it clinically asymptomatic. Clinical presentation with symptoms secondary to CMV is usually seen in patients whose immunity is compromised,” the statement read.

 

 

“Covid infection itself and the medicines used for its treatment (steroids) do suppress impunity of patients and make them susceptible for uncommon infections with varied presentation. In our series, all patients presented with low lymphocyte count (6%-10% as against a normal of 20%-40%) indicating Covid-induced suppression of immunity, predisposing them to symptomatic reactivation of CMV infection,” the statement from the hospital read.

According to Dr Praveen Sharma, Senior Consultant at Gastroenterology department of the Delhi hospital, “I such cases, a high index of suspicion and timely intervention in the early form of an early diagnosis and effective antiviral therapy can save many precious lives.“

 

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