Initial experience with imported Zika virus infection in Spain

Enferm Infecc Microbiol Clin (Engl Ed). 2018 Jan;36(1):4-8. doi: 10.1016/j.eimc.2016.08.003. Epub 2016 Oct 12.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Introduction: A considerable increase of imported Zika virus (ZIKV) infection has been reported in Europe in the last year. This is the result of the large outbreak of the disease in the Americas, along with the increase in the numbers of travellers and immigrants arriving from ZIKV endemic areas.

Methods: A descriptive study was conducted in the Tropical Medicine Unit of Hospital La Paz-Carlos III in Madrid on travellers returning from an endemic area for ZIKV from January to April 2016. Demographic, clinical and microbiological data were analyzed.

Results: A total of 185 patients were screened for ZIKV (59.9% women, median age of 37.7±10.3 years). Main purpose of the travel was tourism to Colombia, Brazil, and México. Just under three-quarters (73%) were symptomatic, mostly with fever and headache. A total of 13 patients (7% of those screened) were diagnosed with ZIKV infections, of which four of them were pregnant. All of them were symptomatic patients, the majority immigrants, and mainly from Colombia. Diagnostic tests were based on positive neutralization antibodies (8 cases, 61.6%) and a positive RT-PCR in different organic fluids (7 cases, 53.8%) The four infected pregnant women underwent a neurosonography every 3 weeks, and no alterations were detected. RT-PCR in amniotic fluid was performed in three of them, with negative results. One of the children has already been born healthy.

Conclusions: Our cases series represents the largest cohort of imported ZIKV to Spain described until now. Clinicians must increase awareness about the progression of the ZIKV outbreak and the affected areas so that they can include Zika virus infection in their differential diagnosis for travellers from those areas.

Keywords: Arbovirus; Epidemia; Epidemic; Infección por virus Zika; Medicina del viajero; Travel medicine; Zika virus infection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Americas
  • Communicable Diseases, Imported* / diagnosis
  • Communicable Diseases, Imported* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Travel
  • Zika Virus Infection* / diagnosis
  • Zika Virus Infection* / epidemiology