Serological Evidence of Zika Virus Infection in Febrile Patients and Healthy Blood Donors in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, 2017-2018

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2021 Nov 22;tpmd210802. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.21-0802. Online ahead of print.


Several Zika virus (ZIKV) seroprevalence studies have been conducted in Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Americas, and the Caribbean. However, studies on ZIKV seroprevalence are limited in Malaysia though several studies have shown that the disease is endemic in the Malaysian state of Sabah. To evaluate the seroprevalence of ZIKV infection, 818 serum samples were collected from febrile patients and healthy blood donors from the Kudat and Kota Kinabalu districts in Sabah from 2017 to 2018. They were screened for ZIKV infection by IgM and IgG ELISA, and positive ZIKV IgM samples were subjected to a 90% neutralization test for confirmation. Twenty-four (6% [95% CI 4 to 8]) confirmed and two (0.5% [95% CI 0.13 to 1.8]) probable ZIKV infections were detected among 400 febrile illness patients. Of 418 healthy blood donor samples, six (1.4% [95% CI 0.65 to 3]) were determined as confirmed ZIKV infections and six (1.4% [95% CI 0.65 to 3]) indicated probable ZIKV infection. This is the first study on the seroprevalence of ZIKV infections among patients and healthy blood donors in Sabah. Compared with previous studies in Malaysia, this study shows that the incidence of ZIKV infection has increased. It also suggests that a sero-surveillance system is essential to determine the circulation of ZIKV in Sabah, Malaysia.