Comedian Rufus Hound helps raise awareness of Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) affecting newborn babies

Rufus Hound delighted supporters of a charity campaigning to raise awareness of a little-known condition, Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV), when he appeared on ITV’s All Star Mr & Mrs. The condition causes permanent disabilities in around 900 newborn babies in the UK every year. Although it is a leading cause of lifelong disability, very few pregnant women in this country are even aware of CMV.

The comedian and actor went on the programme with his wife Beth to help raise awareness of the charity CMV Action and the dangers that CMV poses. The pair also raised £5,000 for the charity.

Gaye Tomlinson, the chair of CMV Action, said: “We were delighted that Rufus chose CMV Action as his charity for the programme and are immensely grateful for his support. It has resulted in some much needed additional funding but above all it has helped raise awareness of this condition on prime time TV.” 

Gaye’s two year old son Calum was born with Congenital CMV and is profoundly deaf.  She said: “As CMV is a relatively unknown condition, people think it must be very rare. It’s not. It is more common than Down’s Syndrome, Spina Bifida and Cystic Fibrosis.

“With the support of people like Rufus we want to make sure every woman is aware of the risks of CMV and is equipped with the knowledge to reduce those risks.”

CMV Action aims to raise awareness of the virus, campaign for better prevention measures within the health service, provide support for families affected by CMV and encourage research into a CMV vaccine.

Rufus Hound said: “Congenital CMV can devastate lives but so few people are aware that it even exists. I learnt about the condition from a friend who is one of the trustees of CMV Action, which brings together a group of passionate people, many of whom have children affected by the virus.

“CMV Action aims to educate people about what they can do to reduce the risk of CMV in pregnancy, as well as providing support and advice for those families affected by the condition. Ultimately the charity hopes to see a vaccine introduced which can ensure that no families have to live with the consequences of Congenital CMV.”

CMV is a common virus that can infect people of all ages. Most healthy adults and children will have no signs or symptoms and no long-term effects from CMV, but it can be very dangerous to unborn babies.

As many as one in 1,000 babies in the UK are born each year with permanent disabilities as a result of CMV, making it the most common cause of birth defects in the UK.
The most common disability associated with congenital CMV is hearing loss but it can also cause vision loss, mental disability and seizures.

CMV is spread from person to person by bodily fluids. Pregnant women can reduce the risk of infection by following a few basic hygiene precautions such as:

  • Avoiding sharing dummies, cutlery, drinks or food with anyone.
  • Avoiding kissing babies, toddlers and small children directly on the mouth, and kiss them on the cheeks or forehead instead.
  • Washing hands regularly with soap and water, especially after changing nappies or coming into contact with bodily fluids.
  • Washing any items that have been contaminated by bodily fluids with soap and water.

CMV Action offers advice and support to anyone affected by Congenital CMV and helps ensure they receive the best care possible. It puts families in touch with each other and provides a personal support service for each of its members.

Research is currently underway for a vaccine which CMV Action is keen to see introduced nationally. For more information, visit: www.cmvaction.org.uk.

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