A vaccination strategy that targets a single strain of Zika virus should be sufficient to protect against genetically diverse strains of the virus, according to data published recently in Cell Reports

Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Washington University in St. Louis; and Emory University in Atlanta took serum samples from people infected by Zika virus strains circulating in South America and mixed them with multiple strains of the virus in the laboratory to see how well the serum antibodies neutralized the virus. 

The researchers demonstrated that antibodies elicited after infection with Zika virus strains of the Asian lineage were able to potently inhibit both Zika virus strains from the Asian lineage and African lineage strains. The researchers conducted similar experiments using serum samples from mice and found that sera from mice infected with either Asian or African Zika virus strains were equally effective in neutralizing virus strains from either lineage.


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Such protection indicates that, despite being genetically distinct, all strains of Zika virus have identical surface antigens and therefore are the same serotype. The Zika virus strain circulating in the current outbreak affecting the Caribbean, and Central and South America is of the Asian lineage.  

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