Knowledge of cytomegalovirus infection among women in Saudi Arabia: A cross-sectional study

PLoS One. 2022 Sep 29;17(9):e0274863. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0274863. eCollection 2022.


Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common intrauterine congenital infection in humans. Worldwide seropositive rates of CMV are considerably high among women of childbearing age. There is currently no optimal drug treatment nor a vaccine for congenital CMV infection and therefore the best available program to date of prevention is practicing standard hygienic measures. The success of this program relies on women's knowledge of CMV modes of transmissions, and risk and preventative behaviors.

Objective: The current study aims to assess the awareness and knowledge of CMV infection among women in Saudi Arabia.

Method: In this cross-sectional study, an online self-administered questionnaire was distributed to women 18 years of age or older residing in all regions of Saudi Arabia. The questionnaire included questions to assess awareness of CMV, knowledge of symptoms, transmission, and preventative measures of CMV infection.

Results: Out of the 1004 women who completed the questionnaire, self-reported knowledge of CMV was considerably low with only 82 women (8.17%) having heard of CMV infection. Most women reported learning about CMV from the internet and university. In binary logistic analyses, women pursuing studies in healthcare and those working in health professions, as well as those with undergraduate and graduate college degrees were significantly associated with higher knowledge of CMV. Urban area of residence was significantly associated with lower levels of knowledge of CMV. Among women who reported they had heard of CMV, their knowledge of CMV modes of transmission, symptoms, and preventative measures was considerably low. Regarding the transmission route, 23% reported no knowledge of modes of transmission, 59.75% reported mother-to-child transmission, 48.78% reported sexual intercourse, and 45% reported contact with body fluids of an infected person. Regarding knowledge of symptoms of congenital CMV, mental retardation and death were the most commonly reported clinical presentations.

Conclusion: The current study showed that the overall knowledge of CMV is very low among women in Saudi Arabia. Working in the healthcare field and higher education levels were significantly associated with better knowledge of CMV. It is crucial that women are provided with information regarding CMV-associated complications and preventative measures against mother-to-fetus transmission of CMV.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical*
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology

Grant support

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.