Factors associated with cytomegalovirus serostatus in young people in England: A cross-sectional study

JR Winter, GS Taylor, OG Thomas, C Jackson, JEA Lewis, Helen R Stagg

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Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common herpesvirus which is estimated to infect 83% of the global population. Whilst many infections are asymptomatic, it is an important cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly for immunocompromised people and for infants who are congenitally infected. A vaccine against CMV has been stated as a public health priority, but there are gaps in our understanding of CMV epidemiology. To guide potential future vaccination strategies, our aim was to examine risk factors for CMV seropositivity in young people in England.
The Health Survey for England (HSE) is an annual, cross-sectional representative survey of households in England during which data are collected through questionnaires, and blood samples are taken. We randomly selected individuals who participated in the HSE 2002, aiming for 25 participants of each sex in each single year age group from 11 to 24 years. Stored samples were tested for CMV antibodies. We undertook descriptive and regression analyses of CMV seroprevalence and risk factors for infection.
Demographic data and serostatus were available for 732 individuals, of whom 175 (23.7%) were CMV-seropositive. CMV seroprevalence was associated with age, with 18.3% seropositive at 11–14 years compared to 28.3% at 22–24 years. CMV serostatus was also higher in people of non-white ethnicity (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 6.22, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.47–11.14), and in adults who were seropositive for EBV (aOR 2.08 [1.06–4.09]). There was no evidence that smoking status, occupation, body mass index and region of England were associated with CMV serostatus.
CMV seroprevalence is strongly associated with ethnicity, and modestly increases with age in 11–24-year-olds. A greater understanding of the transmission dynamics of CMV, and the impact of this on CMV-associated morbidity and mortality, is necessary to inform effective vaccination strategies when a vaccine for CMV becomes available.
Original languageEnglish
Article number875
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2020

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