In a first, India has reported five cases of Cytomegalovirus (CVM) related rectal bleeding in COVID-19 patients in Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. The hospital said that some patients came in complaining of rectal bleeding, which upon diagnosis was linked to Cytomegalovirus. All these patients experienced this condition after testing positive for Covid-19.
According to a report prepared by a group of senior doctors in Sir Ganga Ram hospital, these cases were detected during the second wave of Covid-19 in April-May. All the patients were otherwise Covid immunocompetent and experienced rectal bleeding and pain in the abdomen after about 20 to 30 days of testing positive for Covid-19. Doctors said two patients had massive bleeding and one required emergency lifesaving surgery in the form of removal of right side of the colon. One of them succumbed due to massive bleeding and severe Covid chest disease.
What is Cytomegalovirus?
Cytomegalovirus or CMV is a common virus. According to Mayo Clinic, once the body gets infected with this virus, it retains it for life. The virus rarely causes problems in healthy people but can severely impact people with a weakened immunity system. The virus spreads easily through an infected person’s blood, saliva, urine or other body fluids and is related to the herpes virus, which gives cold sores.
Since the virus rarely spells trouble in healthy people, most people who get CMV don’t know it. The symptoms of primary CMV are mild such as sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, swollen glands and fever. The virus is known to spread quickly is areas that have a lot of young children, like the day-care centers, pre-nurseries, etc.
However, the infection can prove fatal in people with poor immunity, especially those who have had an organ, stem cell or bone marrow transplant, warns Mayo Clinic. “If you’re pregnant or if your immune system is weakened, CMV is cause for concern. Women who develop an active CMV infection during pregnancy can pass the virus to their babies, who might then experience symptoms,” it says.
Some of the serious complications of this virus can impact the lungs, liver, esophagus, stomach, intestines and brain.
One can get infected by CVM through contact with eyes, nose, or mouth after having contact with an infected person’s saliva, blood, urine, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk
Tests and Diagnosis
The three most common ways to check for this infection are blood and urine tests, conducting a biopsy and examination of the eyes to check for inflammation in retina.
Blood and urine tests include CMV antigen, a virus culture, or PCR (a molecular test). Serologic tests look for things your immune system makes to fight CMV, called IgM and IgG antibodies, although most healthy people also have them, says WebMD. In biopsy, a small sample of tissue from the suspected patient’s esophagus, lung or intestines is checked under a microscope.