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Public Library of Science, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 6(15), p. e0009412, 2021

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0009412



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Evidence of Zika virus circulation in asymptomatic pregnant women in Northeast, Brazil

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Background Zika virus (ZIKV) is a flavivirus associated with microcephaly and other fetal anormalities. However, evidence of asymptomatic ZIKV infection in pregnant women is still scarce. This study investigated the prevalence of Zika infection in asymptomatic pregnant women attending two public maternities in Maranhão state, Northeast Brazil. Methods A total of 196 women were recruited at the time of delivery by convenience sampling from two maternity clinics in São Luís, Maranhão, Brazil, between April 2017 and June 2018. Venous blood, umbilical cord blood and placental fragments from maternal and fetal sides were collected from each subject. ZIKV infection was determined by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) for ZIKV and by serology (IgM and IgG). Nonspecific laboratory profiles (TORCH screen) were obtained from medical records. Results The participants were mostly from São Luís and were of 19–35 years of age. They had 10–15 years of schooling and they were of mixed race, married, and Catholic. ZIKV was identified in three umbilical cord samples and in nine placental fragments. Mothers with positive ZIKV RT-qPCR were in the age group older than 19 years. Of the 196 women tested by ZIKV rapid test, 6 and 117 women were positive for anti-ZIKV IgM and anti-ZIKV IgG antibodies, respectively. Placental Immunohistochemistry study detected ZIKV in all samples positive by RT-PCR. The newborns did not show any morphological and/or psychomotor abnormalities at birth. Conclusions Asymptomatic ZIKV infection is frequent, but it was not associated to morphological and/or psychomotor abnormalities in the newborns up to 6 months post-birth. Although pathological abnormalities were not observed at birth, we cannot rule out the long term impact of apparent asymptomatic congenital ZIKV infection.