Saliva pools for screening of human cytomegalovirus using real-time PCR

Cláudia Fernandes, Augusta Marques, Maria de Jesus Chasqueira, Mónica Cró Braz, Ana Rute Ferreira, Ana Serrão Neto, Cândida Mendes, David Lito, Maria Favila Menezes, Maria José Sousa, Paulo Paixão

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the leading congenital infection agent in the world. The importance of screening this infection has been debated, as 10–15% of the asymptomatic newborns with HCMV at birth will present late sequelae. The aim of this study was to test the feasibility of using saliva pools from newborns in a screening program for congenital HCMV infection, in two Portuguese hospitals. The screening was based on the use of pools of 10 saliva samples for detection of viral DNA by real-time PCR. Whenever there was a positive pool, the samples were tested individually, and for each positive sample the result was confirmed with a urine sample collected in the first 2 weeks of life. The study involved 1492 newborns. One hundred and fifty pools were screened, with 14 positive results in saliva, but only 10 were confirmed in urine samples, giving a prevalence of congenital HCMV infection in both hospitals of 0.67% (CI95% 0.36 to 1.23%). Conclusion: The overall prevalence of congenital HCMV infection in both hospitals was 0.67%. The use of saliva pools proved to be effective for the screening of this congenital infection, allowing timely screening and confirmation in a large population, with associated cost reduction.What is Known:• Newborn screening for HCMV is desirable.• Saliva is a good and practical sample.What is New:• The feasibility of using saliva pools for a large-scale screening.• The cost reduction of this strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1067-1072
JournalEuropean Journal Of Pediatrics
Issue number4
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Cost reduction
  • HCMV
  • Newborn
  • Pools


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