Emerging Infectious Diseases in Pregnant Women in a Non-Endemic Area: Almost One Out of Four Is at Risk

Pathogens. 2021 Jan 10;10(1):56. doi: 10.3390/pathogens10010056.


We report the results of a targeted testing strategy for five emerging infectious diseases (Chagas disease, human T-lymphotropic virus 1 infection, malaria, schistosomiasis, and Zika virus infection) in pregnant women accessing an Italian referral centre for infectious diseases in pregnancy for unrelated reasons. The strategy is based on a quick five-question questionnaire which allows the identification of pregnant women at risk who should be tested for a specific disease. One hundred and three (24%) out of 429 pregnant women evaluated in a 20 month period were at risk for at least one emerging infectious disease. Three (2.9%, all from sub-Saharan Africa) out of 103 at-risk women resulted in being affected (one case of Plasmodium falciparum malaria, two cases of schistosomiasis) and were appropriately managed. Prevalence of emerging infectious disease was particularly high in pregnant women from Africa (three out of 25 pregnant women tested, 12%). The proposed strategy could be used by health care professionals managing pregnant women in non-endemic setting, to identify those at risk for one of the five infection which could benefit for a targeted test and treatment.

Keywords: Chagas disease; HTLV; Zika; malaria; pregnancy; schistosomiasis.