Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 7: Infectious Diseases

7.7 Herpes Viruses

7.7.1 Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Staff Education and Policies on Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 3/31/17.


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a viral infection that is common in children. Up to 70% of children ages 1 to 3 years in group care settings excrete the virus (1).
Staff of childbearing age who care for infants and children should be provided the following information:

  1. The increased probability of exposure to cytomegalovirus (CMV) in the child care setting;
  2. The potential for fetal damage when CMV is acquired during pregnancy;
  3. The importance of hand hygiene measures (especially handwashing and avoiding contact with urine, saliva, and nasal secretions) to lower the risk of CMV;
  4. The availability of counseling and testing for serum antibody to CMV to determine the caregiver/teacher’s immune status.

Female employees of childbearing age should be referred to their primary health care provider or to the health department authority for counseling about their risk of CMV infection. This counseling may include testing for serum antibodies to CMV to determine the employee’s immunity against CMV infection.
Since saliva can transmit CMV, staff should be advised not to share cups or eating utensils, kiss children on the lips, or allow children to put their fingers or hands in another person’s mouth. 

CMV is the leading cause of congenital infection in the United State and approximately 1% of live born infants are infected prenatally (1). While most infected fetuses likely escape resulting illness or disability, 10% to 20% may have hearing loss, developmental delay, cerebral palsy, or vision disturbances (1). Although maternal immunity does not entirely prevent congenital CMV infection, evidence indicates that acquisition of CMV during pregnancy (primary maternal infection) carries the greatest risk for resulting illness or disability of the fetus (2).

Children enrolled in child care facilities are more likely to acquire CMV than are children cared for at home (2). Epidemiologic data, as well as laboratory testing of viral strains, has provided evidence for child-to-child transmission of CMV in the child care setting (1). Rates of CMV excretion vary among facilities and between class groups within a facility. Children between one and three years of age have the highest rates of excretion; published studies report excretion rates between 30% and 40% (2). Many children excrete CMV asymptomatically and intermittently for years.

With regard to child-to-staff transmission, studies have shown increased rates of infection with CMV in caregivers/teachers ranging from 8% to 20% (2). The increased risk for exposure to CMV and high rates of acquisition of CMV in caregivers/teachers could lead to increased rates of congenital CMV infection. Meticulous hand hygiene can reduce the rates of infection by preventing CMV transmission. With current knowledge on the risk of CMV infection in child care staff members and the potential consequences of gestational CMV infection, child care staff members should receive counseling in regard to the risks of acquiring CMV from their primary health care provider. However, it is also important for the child care center director to inform infant caregivers/teachers of the increased risk of exposure to CMV during pregnancy (1). 


For additional information regarding CMV, consult the CMV chapter in the current edition of the Red Book from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Inclusion/Exclusion/Dismissal of Ill Children
  1. Aronson, S. S., T. R. Shope, eds. 2017. Managing infectious diseases in child care and schools: A quick reference guide, 4th Edition.Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infection In: Kimberlin DW, Brady MT, Jackson MA, Long SS, eds. Red Book: 2018 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 31st Edition. Itasca, IL:  American Academy of Pediatrics; 2018: 310-317

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 3/31/17.