Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreaks in Central and South America caused severe public health problems in 2015 and 2016. These outbreaks were finally contained through several methods, including mosquito control using insecticides and repellents. Additionally, the development of herd immunity in these countries might have contributed to containing the epidemic. While ZIKV is mainly transmitted by mosquito bites and mucosal transmission via bodily fluids, including the semen of infected individuals, has also been reported. We evaluated the effect of mucosal ZIKV infection on continuous subcutaneous challenges in a cynomolgus monkey model. Repeated intravaginal inoculations of ZIKV did not induce detectable viremia or clinical symptoms, and all animals developed a potent neutralizing antibody, protecting animals from the subsequent subcutaneous superchallenge. These results suggest that viral replication at mucosal sites can induce protective immunity without causing systemic viremia or symptoms.
Keywords: Zika virus; intravaginal infection; neutralizing antibody; superchallenge.