Disease Outbreak News
9 April 2016
On 24 March 2016, the National IHR Focal Point for France notified PAHO/WHO of a foetus with concomitant microcephaly and Zika virus infection in Martinique.
The diagnosis of microcephaly was made during pregnancy on 10 March. On 17 March, the foetus’s samples were collected and tested at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire of Martinique in Fort-de-France: both amniotic fluid and foetal blood samples resulted positive for Zika virus infection by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). On 22 March, the National Reference Center for arboviruses confirmed the infection with Zika virus.
Between December and March, the serology performed on the mother's serial samples confirmed infection with Zika virus.
WHO risk assessment
This is the first case of Zika virus infection detected in a foetus with microcephaly in Martinique. This report is important because it provides a prospective documentation of Zika virus infection in a mother and her foetus and allows an estimation of the stage of pregnancy at which the mother and the foetus became infected. It also shows that a foetus can be PCR-positive for Zika virus months after the initial infection of the mother. This report provides additional evidence that infection with Zika virus early in pregnancy could be associated with an increased risk of microcephaly. Further investigations, however, will be required to fully comprehend the role of Zika virus infection in the development of congenital abnormalities, such as microcephaly, and to establish any causative links. WHO continues to monitor the epidemiological situation and conduct risk assessment based on the latest available information.