October 20, 2021

Dengue spreads to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito generally living in tropical climates. Symptoms (lasting 2-7 days) commonly seen with dengue include fever, nausea, rash, aches, and pains.

While most people who contract the virus see minimal long-term effects, the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center is studying whether the severity of maternal and fetal Zika virus infection increases in pregnant women who previously had dengue fever.

This first-ever study relating dengue to Zika arose from a concern that a previous dengue infection may become the catalyst leading to more potentially dangerous immune system responses when contracting Zika, especially in pregnant women and their fetuses.

Rhesus macaques were used for the study because their placental development closely mimics humans. Using them as the control, researchers uncovered prior exposure has no measurable impact on Zika replication in maternal plasma. All animal pregnancies resulted in healthy births and infants (in contrast to a small percentage of human infants born to women infected with the disease).

Researchers believe further study to understand the risks of antibody-dependent enhancement to pregnant women worldwide is needed as vaccines against dengue and Zika are developed.

Want to know more about the ongoing fight to eliminate Zika? Here are some additional ways NPRC scientists across the country are making progress against this disease.

Sources: https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/index.html

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