Zika virus persists in serum for more than 2 months in newborns




Zika virus infections can persist for more than 2 months after birth in congenitally infected infants, indicating that viral shedding of Zika can take several weeks, according to an Aug. 24, 2016 research letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.

The case study described in the letter involves a male child born after 40 weeks’ gestation in Brazil to a mother who presented with Zika-like symptoms during the 26th week of pregnancy. The child was born with microcephaly – head circumference of 32.5 centimeters – but no signs of neurological abnormalities during the initial postnatal physical examination. Additionally, cerebrospinal fluid, ophthalmologic, and otoacoustic analyses were all deemed normal.


However, low brain parenchyma in the frontal and parietal lobes, along with calcification in the subcortical area and compensatory dilatation of the infratentorial supraventricular system was found via MRI. Furthermore, testing of serum, saliva, and urine at 54 days of age via quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction assay came back positive for Zika virus. Serum tested at 67 days postbirth also was positive for Zika virus. Testing at day 216, however, showed no signs of Zika virus in serum.

“When the infant was examined on day 54, he had no obvious illness or evidence of any immunocompromising condition,” wrote lead author Danielle B.L. Oliveira, PhD, of the Universidade de São Paulo and her colleagues. “However, by 6 months of age, he showed neuropsychomotor developmental delay, with global hypertonia and spastic hemiplegia, with the right dominant side more severely affected.”

The report comes on the heels of a Florida Department of Health (DOH) announcement that the Zika virus has been found in a pregnant woman residing in Pinellas County, the first such case in that area, making it the third region of Florida in which Zika virus infection has been discovered. As of now, it is the only case of Zika virus in that area.

“DOH has begun door-to-door outreach in Pinellas County and mosquito abatement and reduction activities are also taking place,” the DOH announced in a statement. “DOH still believes ongoing transmission is only taking place within the small identified areas in Wynwood and Miami Beach in Miami-Dade County.”

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