A Spontaneous Abortion Associated with Zika Virus Infection Early in Pregnancy

The case report provides further information on the natural history of the infection in pregnant women

Photo: Ragessos

Researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, an institution supported by “la Caixa” Foundation, describe a spontaneous abortion case very likely as a result of an infection by Zika virus early during pregnancy. The findings provide further evidence of the association between Zika virus, infection via the placenta, and embryonic damage.

In 2015, Brazil experienced a sharp increase in the number of newborns with microcephaly, concurrent with an epidemic by the Zika virus. Since then, mounting evidence indicates that ZIKV infection in pregnant women can cause congenital abnormalities including microcephaly, as well as fetal loss.

In this study, the ISGlobal research group describes the case of a woman in her 7th week of pregnancy that travelled to the Dominican Republic where she developed symptoms compatible with Zika. At her return to Spain, a routine examination revealed fetal loss (estimated to have occurred at the gestational age of 8 weeks). Infective virus could also be isolated from the placenta and from embryonic tissue. The woman had antibodies to Zika, and virus could be amplified from her blood up to one month after symptom onset.

Virus persistence up to 3 weeks after pregnancy loss has not been described previously and underscores the current lack of knowledge regarding the natural history of Zika virus infection”, says Azucena Bardají, senior author of the study.

All the tests performed suggest that the spontaneous abortion in this woman was likely associated with a symptomatic Zika virus infection occurring early in pregnancy, and that this happened shortly after infection, conclude the authors. The results also provide evidence that the placental tissue is a preferred target for the virus.


Goncé A, Martínez MJ, Marbán-Castro E, et al. Spontaneous Abortion Associated with Zika Virus Infection and Persistent Viremia.Emerg Infect Dis. 2018 May;24(5):933-935. doi: 10.3201/eid2405.171479.