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Cytomegalovirus Update: ‘CMV Is Like a Zika Epidemic, Times 10, Every Year’ | IDWeek 2023


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) expert Sallie Permar, M.D., Ph.D., of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center says that as the most common infectious cause of long-term disability CMV should be the number one target of vaccine development.

First of four parts

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common herpesvirus that doesn’t cause symptoms in adults and children with intact immune systems.

But there is a risk of transmission to infants when pregnant women are infected, and about 25% of infected infants experience some kind of long-term disease, including but not limited to hearing loss, developmental disorders and seizure disorders.

“It being the most common infectious cause of long-term disabilities makes it as far as I am concerned target number for the next important pathogen that we’ re combating through vaccination,” Sallie Permar, M.D., Ph.D., said in an interview with Managed Healthcare Executive. 

Permar spoke about CMV vaccine development this afternoon at the IDWeek 2023 meeting in Boston. She is a leading researcher of neonatal viral infections, including HIV as wells as CMV, and vertical transmission from mothers to infants. Permar is chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and pediatrician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital.

In her conversation with MHE, discussed CMV incidence and prevalence, the hurdles to developing a vaccine and two of the leading vaccine candidates in development.

“We all jumped to the moment when the Zika epidemic came in 2015, 2016 and was recognized to be a congenital pathogen at that time. CMV is like a Zika epidemic, times 10, every year, as long as we’ve known. So it is public health but it just hasn’t changed and not a lot of people know about it.”

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