CMV Stealing Headlines from Zika

CMV Stealing Headlines from Zika

2016 saw the rapid rise and total media saturation of the Zika virus. And while the virus itself may not have been everywhere, the media coverage was impossible to miss and it was compelling. An obscure virus, discovered within the last 100 or so years, had been infecting pregnant women and causing profound birth defects and developmental disabilities. "Hey," the CMV community thought, "that kind of sounds like us!" Then the WHO (World Health Organization) escalated its response and, in turn, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) elevated Zika in priority. The limited amount of CDC staff working on CMV were diverted to focus their time on Zika and Congress immediately demanded that more staff and more time were necessary to address the Zika threat. The media was captivated by the story that mosquitos -- ubiquitous and annoying as they already were -- were now posing a significant public health risk that professionals the world over had yet to fully understand and tackle. Then something interesting happened and the media began looking into the concept that a virus could impact a pregnancy and significantly alter the health outcomes of the resulting newborn. Were there other viruses? Was Zika really the only viral threat to pregnancy that could be publicized, addressed, and possibly prevented?

Then the phone started ringing (or, to be more current, email inboxes started filling up), and media outlets and reporters across the country started diving into the issue of CMV. Most recently, the New York Times splashed CMV across the front page of their Science section, accompanied by lengthy online coverage and interactive social media interviews. While we still have a few more weeks left in 2016, CMV has amassed unseen press coverage and has finally crossed the screens and desks of millions of readers. And, interesting to note, the variety of media outlets covering CMV speaks to the variety of readership and viewership that they serve. Today, we wanted to present to you what we consider perhaps the “greatest hits” of CMV media coverage thus far in 2016. So whether you like your news millennial mommy blogger style or hard and heavy science, there’s CMV media coverage that speaks to you and, very likely, those who think and read like you.

The New York Times (aka NYT) has long been regarded as the national "newspaper of record", winning 117 Pulitzer Prizes--more than any other news organization. It has the largest circulation among metropolitan newspapers in the US which means, whether via print or online, millions of readers accessed their coverage of CMV. 

“CMV Is a Greater Threat to Infants Than Zika, but Far Less Often Discussed” 
“…pregnant women don’t worry about CMV only because they don’t know about it, some researchers say. They argue that it is high time to carry out education campaigns and infant screening for the infection, arguing that it smacks of paternalism to do otherwise… Guidelines from ACOG suggest that pregnant women will find CMV prevention “impractical and burdensome,” especially if they are told not to kiss their toddlers on the mouth — a possible route of transmission.”

Nature is an interdisciplinary scientific journal and is ranked as the world's most cited scientific journal. 

“Zika raises profile of more common birth-defect virus” 
“A virus is killing hundreds of babies in the United States each year, and leaving thousands with debilitating birth defects, including abnormally small heads and brains. This is not the Zika virus. It is a common and much less exotic one: cytomegalovirus (CMV). Now, as the eyes of the media and health officials focus on the spread of Zika in the Americas and beyond, many researchers and advocates hope that funders and health agencies will at last pay more attention to a much greater global problem — the millions of babies born year in, year out, with often-serious birth defects.”

The Huffington Post, (also called Huff Post or HuffPo) is an online news aggregator and was the first commercially run digital media enterprise to win a Pulitzer Prize.

“Move Over Zika, We Need To Talk About CMV” 
“As a nurse with most of my career spent in obstetrics and pediatrics and also as the mother of three beautiful children, I think that I had begun to imagine that I knew most conditions that could impact a pregnancy and infancy. Currently, as a public health nurse who educates high-risk pregnant clients and mothers of young children, I certainly felt well-informed about pregnancy health. However, the pregnancy of a co-worker — a nurse herself, made me rethink my knowledge of pregnancy health altogether.”

Quartz is a digital global business news publication owned by Atlantic Media Co., the publisher of The Atlantic, National Journal, and Government Executive.

“The CMV virus causes microcephaly in babies, and it’s much more widespread than Zika” 
“…the virus can cause serious damage when transmitted from mother to unborn child. More awareness about CMV could help avoid that. Due to their less-than-stellar hygiene habits, small children can easily get infected with the virus after birth. Although they personally don’t suffer any ill effects, they become “a virtual hot zone for CMV”…”

Medium is an online publishing platform and an example of evolved social journalism, having a hybrid collection of amateur and professional people and publication. 

“What if pregnant women had to avoid their toddlers instead of mosquitos?” 
“…it’s said that there’s no known cure and therefore no reason to alarm pregnant women because the CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) can’t agree on a definitive course of action. With figures and stats that scream ‘all women need to know about this NOW’ there are actions that can be taken to lessen your risk for CMV while researchers scramble for the resources to find a cure.”

Romper bills itself as “a parenting site by millennial women for millennial women” and “a site for a new generation of women figuring out what motherhood means for us”. 

“What Is CMV? Pregnant Women Should Really Know About This Virus”
“…if mothers knew about CMV and its potential health effects, it's likely that they would be asking doctors how to avoid the infection. The lack of public awareness about the infection, and a lack of encouragement to discuss it with patients, means that mothers don't really know what information they're missing out on.”

…so who’s going to report on CMV next? As this blog post is publishing, more outlets are covering the dangers of congenital CMV to audiences in print, on TV, and online. Want to help us get more coverage? Reach out via email or social media to reporters in your area and ask them to consider covering CMV. Send them a link to the New York Times article and offer yourself to be interviewed as someone whose life has been impacted by CMV. Ask reporters and bloggers that you know to tweet, retweet, or report on CMV any way that they can. Help us reach more people and help us make CMV a topic as current and common as the Zika virus so that both might be eradicated in the near future.