Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that is common in the general population. It is estimated that more than half of the general population has been infected with CMV by age 50. However, most adults who have been exposed to the virus do not develop CMV disease (an infection that causes symptoms and makes you feel sick).
Once infection occurs, a healthy immune system can keep the virus quiet, or dormant, in the body for a long period of time. The virus can become active if a person's ability to fight infection is reduced. If CMV disease does occur in a healthy adult, it usually causes only mild flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, and body aches. This is the mildest form of the disease. CMV disease can also be much more serious. It can cause complications that affect your lungs, liver, stomach, eyes, and intestines.
After transplant surgery, you will receive immunosuppressant medications. These drugs are important to help prevent you from rejecting your new kidney, but they also leave the body less able to fight infection. In the transplant recipient, a CMV infection can develop into CMV disease and cause serious health problems such as fever, pneumonia, gastrointestinal infection, retinitis (an infection of the retina of the eye), hepatitis or rejection of your transplant. Rarely, pneumonia can be fatal. A CMV infection can also make you susceptible to other infections by reducing your level of immunity even below what is caused by the immunosuppressant medications.
The BK virus is a member of the polyomavirus family. Past infection with the BK virus is widespread, but significant consequences of infection are uncommon, with the exception of the immunocompromised and the immunosuppressed.
The BK virus rarely causes disease since many people who are infected with this virus are asymptomatic. If symptoms do appear, they tend to be mild: respiratory infection or fever. These are known as primary BK infections. The virus then disseminates to the kidneys and urinary tract where it persists for life. It is thought that up to 80 percent of the population contains a latent form of this virus, which remains latent until the body undergoes some form of immunosuppression. These cases are usually more severe and lead to renal dysfunction.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a member of the herpes virus family and one of the most common human viruses. The virus occurs in a vast majority of the population, and remains latent until the body undergoes some form of immunosuppression.