We report the first two cases of laboratory confirmed Zika virus (ZIKV) infections imported into Italy from French Polynesia. Both patients presented with low grade fever, malaise, conjunctivitis, myalgia, arthralgia, ankle oedema, and axillary and inguinal lymphadenopathy. One patient showed leukopenia with relative monocytosis and thrombocytopenia. The diagnosis was based on ZIKV seroconversion in both cases and on ZIKV RNA detection in one patient from acute serum sample. Sera from both patients exhibited cross-reactivity with dengue virus antigens. Our immunological analysis demonstrated that recovery from ZIKV infection is associated with restoration of normal numbers of immune cells in the periphery as well as with normal function of antigen-presenting cells. ZIKV is an emerging arbovirus, which has recently spread extensively in tourist destinations on several West Pacific islands. Returning viremic travelers may ignite autochthonous infections in countries like Italy, which are infested by Aedes albopictus, a suitable vector for ZIKV. The role of clinicians is crucial and includes early diagnosis and timely notification of public health authorities in order to quickly implement adequate focal vector control measurements.
Keywords: Dengue; Immunity; Italy; Polynesia; Travel; Zika.
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