Nov, 2020

Vertical transmission of Zika virus and its outcomes: a Bayesian synthesis of prospective studies

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Authors: A E Ades, Antoni Soriano-Arandes, Ana Alarcon, Francesco Bonfante, Claire Thorne, Catherine S Peckham, Carlo Giaquinto

Published in: The Lancet

Background:  Prospective studies of Zika virus in pregnancy have reported rates of congenital Zika syndrome and other adverse outcomes by trimester. However, Zika virus can infect and damage the fetus early in utero, but clear before delivery. The true vertical transmission rate is therefore unknown. We aimed to provide the first estimates of underlying vertical transmission rates and adverse outcomes due to congenital infection with Zika virus by trimester of exposure.

Methods: This was a Bayesian latent class analysis of data from seven prospective studies of Zika virus in pregnancy. We estimated vertical transmission rates, rates of Zika-virus-related and non-Zika-virus-related adverse outcomes, and the diagnostic sensitivity of markers of congenital infection. We allowed for variation between studies in these parameters and used information from women in comparison groups with no PCR-confirmed infection, where available.

Funding: European Union Horizon 2020 programme.




Apr, 2020

Genomic and epidemiological surveillance of Zika virus in the Amazon region

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Authors: Giovanetti M, Faria NR, Lourenco J, et al.

Published in:  Cell Rep. 2020;30(7):2275-2283

Abstract Zika virus (ZIKV) has caused an explosive epidemic linked to severe clinical outcomes in the Americas. As of June 2018, 4,929 ZIKV suspected infections and 46 congenital syndrome cases had been reported in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. Although Manaus is a key demographic hub in the Amazon region, little is known about the ZIKV epidemic there, in terms of both transmission and viral genetic diversity. Using portable virus genome sequencing, we generated 59 ZIKV genomes in Manaus. Phylogenetic analyses indi- cated multiple introductions of ZIKV from northeastern Brazil to Manaus. Spatial genomic analysis of virus movement among six areas in Manaus suggested that populous northern neighborhoods acted as sources of virus transmission to other neighborhoods. Our study revealed how the ZIKV epidemic was ignited and maintained within the largest urban metropolis in the Amazon. These results might contribute to improving the public health response to outbreaks in Brazil.



Feb, 2020

ZIKAction at 3rd International Conference on Zika Virus and Aedes related infections

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ZIKAction Consortium will be presenting preliminary results of its vertical transmission study at the 3rd International Conference on Zika Virus and Aedes related infections that will be held in Washington DC, USA, from 13th to 16th February 2020.

The conference aims to bring together physicians, public health practitioners and researchers to address challenges that Zika and Aedes related infections pose around the globe and try to fill knowledge gaps that still remain, despite many published papers.

Details of the ZIKAction presentations taking place at the conference are shown below.


Friday, February 14, 2020

  • Aileen Lue, Pediatric Medicine Resident, Bustamante Hospital for Children & University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. Severity and Outcomes of Dengue in Hospitalized Children from Five Hospitals in Jamaica During the 2018-2019 Epidemic: Is this due to Antibody Dependent Immune Enhancement from ZIKA Virus Exposure?
  • Karen Webster-Kerr, National Epidemiology Unit, Ministry of Health and Wellness, Kingston, Jamaica. Trends in Dengue – The Jamaican Experience.


Saturday, February 15, 2020

  • Celia DC Christie, Child and Adolescent Health, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. Overview and Preliminary Results of the ZIKAction Vertical Transmission Study in Jamaica.


Oct, 2019

ZikAction Consortium Meeting to take place in Guayaquil, 8-9 November 2019

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On 8-9 November the annual ZIKAction Consortium meeting will be held in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Around 40 researchers, health professionals and project managers from partner organizations are planning to participate in the meeting which aims at overviewing the ongoing project studies, their outcomes and setting goals for the upcoming year. The results of various studies, urgent issues and project management area updates will be presented and discussed during various sessions of the meeting. Special attention will be given to new studies currently starting under the framework of the project in Argentina, Brazil, Jamaica and Ecuador.

We look forward to seeing you all in Guayaquil and sharing the outcomes of the meeting with our wider community of researchers, practitioners, patients and families!


Jul, 2019

Minor groove binder modification of widely used TaqMan hydrolysis probe for detection of dengue virus reduces risk of false-negative real-time PCR results for serotype 4

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Authors: Gray ER, Heaney J, Ferns RB, Sequeira PC, Nastouli E, Garson JA

Published in: J Virol Methods. 2019;268:17-23

Abstract Dengue is a vector-transmitted viral infection that is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in humans worldwide, with over 50 million apparent cases and a fatality rate of 2.5 % of 0.5 million severe cases per annum in recent years. Four serotypes are currently co-circulating. Diagnosis of infection may be by polymerase chain reaction, serology or rapid antigen test for NS1. Both pan-serotype and serotype-specific genome detection assays have been described, however, achieving adequate sensitivity with pan-serotype assays has been challenging. Indeed, as we show here, inspection of components and cycling parameters of a pan-serotype RT-qPCR assay in use in laboratories worldwide revealed insufficient probe stability to accommodate potential nucleotide mismatches, resulting in false-negatives. A minor–groove binder (MGB)-modified version of the probe was designed and its performance compared with that of the original probe in 32 samples. Eight of the samples were undetected by the original probe but detected by the MGB modified probe and six out of seven of these that could be serotyped belonged to serotype 4. Sequencing of the region targeted by the probe in these samples revealed two mismatches which were also universally present in all other serotype 4 sequences in a public database. We therefore recommend adoption of this MGB modification in order to reduce the risk of false-negative results, especially with dengue serotype 4 infections.



Jun, 2018

International Symposium on Zika Virus Research in Marseille – France

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Registrations are now open for the international conference on Zika Virus to be held in Marseille, France, next June. The event – organized by the EU-funded ZIKAlliance project in collaboration with three other EU-funded Zika projects (ZikaPLAN, ZIKAction, and ZIKAVAX) and the European Society for Virology – will take place at the Faculty of Medicine La Timone. The event will provide an overview of the current status of Zika research – covering from basic to clinical research, epidemiology, environmental studies and social sciences – and an opportunity to present the latest results from research conducted by the EU funded Zika consortia. Please visit the conference website for further details and register here.


Feb, 2018

What we know and what we don’t know about perinatal Zika virus infection: a systematic review

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Authors: Soriano-Arandes A, Rivero-Calle I, Nastouli E, et al.

Published inExpert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2018;16(3):243-254

Introduction: Zika virus (ZIKV) infection has caused the most challenging worldwide infectious epidemic outbreak in recent months. ZIKV causes microcephaly and other congenital malformations. There is a need to perform updated systematic reviews on ZIKV infection periodically because this epidemic is bringing up new evidence with extraordinary speed.

Areas covered: Evidence related to ZIKV infection in the gestational, perinatal, and early infant periods covering epidemiology, virology, pathogenesis, risk factors, time of infection during pregnancy, newborn symptoms, treatment, and vaccines. To this end, a search was performed using terms [‘Zika’] AND [‘Perinatal Infection’] OR [‘Congenital Infection’] in the PubMed® international electronic database. Out of a total of 1,538 articles published until 30 November 2017, we finally assessed 106 articles articles that were relevant to the research areas included in this study.

Expert commentary: ZIKV is a new teratogenic/neurotropic virus affecting fetuses. Many challenges are still far from being solved regarding the epidemiology, case definition, clinical and laboratory diagnosis, and preventive measures. An approach using ‘omics’ and new biomarkers for diagnosis, and a ZIKV-vaccine for treatment, might finally give us the tools to solve these challenges.


Nov, 2017

ZIKAction: approval of the Congenital Microcephaly Case-Control Study protocol

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On November 7th, 2017, the Ethics Committee of the Universidad Central del Ecuador formally approved the ZIKAction Congenital Microcephaly Case-Control Study protocol. This prospective study, focused on estimating the risk of congenital microcephaly associated with Zika virus, dengue or chikungunya infection, will be led by Dra. Greta Miño from Hospital del Niño Francisco Icaza Bustamante of Guayaquil and Dr. Toni Soriano from University Hospital Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona as co-lead of the ZIKA-PED work package.


Nov, 2017

Great news from Gainesville, FL (US): the 2° Consortium meeting of our ZIKAction project was a success!

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On November 2nd-3rd, the ZIKAction Consortium met for its annual general meeting, which was held at the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida.

About 70 scientists from 18 countries attended this two-day meeting, which was an outstanding opportunity to assess the work done so far and to explore future perspective for collaboration.

It was memorable to have Mario Monti, Former EU Commissioner and Prime Minister of Italy between 2011-2013 among our speakers.

See a short report on the ZIKAction website and an article in the American newspaper


Nov, 2016

The ZIKAction Kick-Off Meeting was a success!


The ZIKAction Kick-Off Meeting was held in Kingston, Jamaica at the University of West Indies from October 30th to November 1st.


Thank you all for coming!!

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 734857.


We would like to update you on our recent activities