Viremia and Clinical Presentation in Nicaraguan Patients Infected With Zika Virus, Chikungunya Virus, and Dengue Virus

Clin Infect Dis. 2016 Dec 15;63(12):1584-1590. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciw589. Epub 2016 Aug 30.


Background: Zika virus (ZIKV), chikungunya virus (CHIKV), and dengue virus (DENV) cocirculate in Nicaragua. In this study, we sought to compare the quantified viremia and clinical presentation of patients infected with 1 or more of these viruses.

Methods: Acute-phase serum samples from 346 patients with a suspected arboviral illness were tested using a multiplex real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction for ZIKV, CHIKV, and DENV. Viremia was quantitated for each detected virus, and clinical information from request forms submitted with each sample was recorded.

Results: A total of 263 patients tested positive for 1 or more viruses: 192 patients tested positive for a single virus (monoinfections) and 71 patients tested positive for 2 or all 3 viruses (coinfections). Quantifiable viremia was lower in ZIKV infections compared with CHIKV or DENV (mean 4.70 vs 6.42 and 5.84 log10 copies/mL serum, respectively; P < .001 for both comparisons), and for each virus, mean viremia was significantly lower in coinfections than in monoinfections. Compared with patients with CHIKV or DENV, ZIKV patients were more likely to have a rash (P < .001) and less likely to be febrile (P < .05) or require hospitalization (P < .001). Among all patients, hospitalized cases had higher viremia than those who did not require hospitalization (7.1 vs 4.1 log10 copies/mL serum, respectively; P < .001).

Conclusions: ZIKV, CHIKV, and DENV result in similar clinical presentations, and coinfections may be relatively common. Our findings illustrate the need for accurate, multiplex diagnostics for patient care and epidemiologic surveillance.

Keywords: Zika virus; chikungunya virus; coinfection; dengue virus; viremia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chikungunya Fever / complications
  • Chikungunya Fever / physiopathology
  • Chikungunya Fever / virology*
  • Coinfection
  • Dengue / complications
  • Dengue / physiopathology
  • Dengue / virology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicaragua
  • Viremia* / physiopathology
  • Viremia* / virology
  • Young Adult
  • Zika Virus Infection / complications
  • Zika Virus Infection / physiopathology
  • Zika Virus Infection / virology*