Zika virus and pregnancy: An overview

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2017 Feb;77(2). doi: 10.1111/aji.12616. Epub 2017 Jan 3.


In May 2015, the first episodes of Zika virus infection of the Latin America were confirmed in Brazil, where currently 196 976 cases were reported. The main route of transmission occurs by Aedes mosquitoes, and the most common symptoms are maculopapular rash, fever, conjunctivitis, polyarthralgia, and periarticular edema. However, the infection is asymptomatic in 80% of the cases. The congenital infection is characterized when the transmission to the fetus occurs during pregnancy, but the mechanisms of how the virus infects the placenta remain unclear. Anatomopathological findings were described in first- and third-trimester human placentas; however, the major affected tissue of the baby is the neural. Several clinical situations were listed in these fetuses, such as neurological, ophthalmological, auditory, and articular alterations. The World Health Organization proposed a new congenital syndrome caused by Zika virus. The virus has an important neurotropism and the main manifestation observed in the syndrome is microcephaly, which is usually severe and associated with other neurological injuries. The appearance of sudden rash in pregnant women determines immediate investigation through RT-PCR and serological analysis. Moreover, the prevention consists in using repellents and avoiding endemic areas, considering that the vaccine is still under development.

Keywords: Zika virus; congenital malformations; microcephaly; obstetrician; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asymptomatic Diseases
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Microcephaly / epidemiology*
  • Nervous System / pathology
  • Nervous System / virology*
  • Nervous System Malformations / epidemiology*
  • Placenta / immunology
  • Placenta / virology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology*
  • Viral Tropism
  • World Health Organization
  • Zika Virus / physiology*
  • Zika Virus Infection / epidemiology*