In Africa, human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is an important pathogen in a diverse range of patient groups. Congenital CMV infection is common, and most children undergo primary infection during the first year of life. Preliminary studies suggest that these early primary CMV infections could have population-wide effects on growth and development. In most studies of adults, CMV seroprevalence is close to 100%, but some studies have found that significant minorities of adults are seronegative. CMV is a common cause of pneumonia and meningitis in hospitalised immunosuppressed patient groups, and CMV DNAemia may be an important marker of rapid progression and poor outcomes of HIV infection, despite roll-out of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Diagnosis and treatment of CMV-related disease is broadly neglected in Africa, and no randomised clinical trials of anti-CMV drugs have been conducted to date. Autopsy is rarely performed in Africa, but identifies CMV as a frequent pathogen when it is carried out. Here we review the available literature on CMV in Africa, primarily in adult patients, and discuss this in the context of contemporary understanding of CMV as a human pathogen.

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