Intrauterine West Nile virus: ocular and systemic findings

Am J Ophthalmol. 2003 Oct;136(4):733-5. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(03)00452-5.


Purpose: To report the first documented case of intrauterine transmission of West Nile virus (WNV) with resulting congenital chorioretinal scarring and central nervous system malformation in a newborn.

Design: Case report.

Methods: Ophthalmic findings and laboratory data in an otherwise presumed healthy 2-day-old female are presented. The infant's mother developed paraplegia due to WNV during the second trimester of her pregnancy. The newborn's external and general physical examination were unremarkable.

Results: Ophthalmic examination disclosed marked chorioretinal changes, and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain demonstrated severe abnormalities. Serology for WNV was positive. Other causes of congenital chorioretinal changes were ruled out with the appropriate serology.

Conclusions: Intrauterine transmission of WNV may result in significant ocular and neurologic morbidity. Titers for this important and emerging viral pathogen should be obtained when standard serologies are negative in an infant with congenital chorioretinal scarring.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Brain Diseases / congenital
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Brain Diseases / virology
  • Choroid Diseases / congenital
  • Choroid Diseases / diagnosis
  • Choroid Diseases / virology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / virology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / analysis
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Paraplegia / diagnosis
  • Paraplegia / virology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology*
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Retinal Diseases / congenital
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Retinal Diseases / virology*
  • West Nile Fever / congenital
  • West Nile Fever / transmission*
  • West Nile virus / isolation & purification
  • West Nile virus / pathogenicity*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin M