Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection Initially Managed as Congenital Rubella Syndrome

  • Roland Joseph D. Tan
Keywords: Congenital CMV infection, Congenital Rubella Syndrome, congenital cataract, hearing loss, jaundice


Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection (cCMV) is challenging to differentiate from congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) clinically. Virus detection and serological tests are needed. However, they are often not readily available or are expensive.

This is a case of a five-month-old male with bilateral cataracts. He was jaundiced at birth and started having seizure episodes at one month of age. He was also diagnosed with right inguinal hernia and had abnormal bilateral hearing tests. Both eyes were noted to have leukocoria at two months of age. There was dazzle on both eyes and sclerae were anicteric. Examination revealed dense cataracts on both eyes, but their ocular ultrasound results were essentially normal. Due to the bilateral hearing loss and bilateral cataracts, CRS was initially considered despite the absence of heart abnormality since there were reported CRS cases without the complete triad. However, possible coinfection or another disease was considered due to the presence of jaundice, seizures, and hernia, which were never seen in our previous CRS patients nor were reported in the literature. The patient underwent cataract extraction on both eyes without intraocular lens implantation (IOL) as recommended for CRS cataracts to prevent severe inflammation. TORCH (TOxoplasmosis, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus, Herpes simplex) test was negative for rubella but positive for CMV. As such, the patient would have benefitted from early IOL implantation. The patient was then referred to a national medical center for possible treatment. However, since the patient already tested negative for CMV polymerase chain reaction (PCR) there, systemic antiviral therapy was no longer initiated.

This case presented the challenge of clinically differentiating cCMV and CRS.


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