Can Testing Placental Tissue Confirm Zika Infection?

HealthDay News — Testing placental and fetal tissue after a child is born can confirm or rule out Zika infection, according to research published in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Sarah Reagan-Steiner, MD, of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, and colleagues analyzed results of tissue testing for pregnancy-related Zika infection in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

The team found that of 546 live births with possible maternal Zika virus exposure, 11% (n=60) proved positive. In 81 cases of pregnancy loss where tissues were available for sampling, 22% (n=18) tested positive for Zika virus.

In 363 births where an unidentified infection had occurred, testing was able to confirm Zika in 10% of babies. Zika was ruled out via placental tissue testing in another 10% of cases where infection likely occurred well before the mother’s blood was tested.

“Testing of placental tissues from live births can continue to be considered when results of maternal Zika virus testing are not definitive or testing is not performed within the optimal time,” the authors write.

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Reagan-Steiner S, Simeone R, Simon E, et al. Evaluation of placental and fetal tissue specimens for zika virus infection – 50 states and District of Columbia, January-December, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017 Jun 23;66(24):636-643. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6624a3.