Epilepsy Seizures Reported In 48% of Zika Virus Infants

Zika virus testing is particularly important for women who are or may become pregnant

new born feet

A research study from Brazil shows that 48 percent of newborns with confirmed congenital Zika syndrome (CZS) were likely to suffer seizures during their first 4 months of life.

Congenital Zika syndrome was diagnosed in 29 infants born between October 31, 2015, and January 9, 2016.

The primary neurological outcome reported by these infants in Bahia state, Brazil, was epilepsy, which occurred at a rate of 15.6 cases per 100 patient-months.

This study reported the cumulative fatality rate of these infants was 7.4 percent.

These researchers said healthcare professionals should be alerted to the high-risk of epilepsy and death associated with CZS in early infancy.

Which means infants diagnosed with CZS should be actively screened for seizures and initiate timely treatment.

This new study supports a June 2017 study regarding epilepsy, which was published in JAMA

Recently, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) updated its Zika testing guidance for asymptomatic pregnant women.

“Routine testing provides important information to women about their pregnancies,” said DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt.

“It also increases the opportunity for public health to identify infections before Zika establishes itself in Texas so we can respond quickly.”

These DSHS changes are explained below:

  • Test asymptomatic pregnant women with ongoing risk of possible Zika virus exposure OR residing in Cameron, Hidalgo, Kinney, Maverick, Starr, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, and Zapata counties three times during pregnancy using PCR only. Ideally, testing should occur at the first prenatal visit and each subsequent trimester. Repeated PCR testing is not recommended after an initial positive PCR test result during pregnancy.
  • Test asymptomatic pregnant women with recent possible exposure to Zika virus as soon as possible, up to 12 weeks after exposure, but no ongoing exposure, using PCR only. Repeated PCR testing is not recommended after an initial positive PCR test result during pregnancy.

DSHS recommends that all Texans continue to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites while traveling to areas where Zika is circulating. Testing is particularly important for women who are or may become pregnant and their sexual partners.

The CDC Travel World Map for Zika outbreaks can be found at this link

The new study was published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.