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Dengue Immunity May be Protective against Symptomatic Zika, Says Study

Using data from the last 15 years, investigators determined exposure histories for 3,027 of the children, of which 743 children had at least one dengue infection.

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Updated:August 28, 2019, 7:30 PM IST
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Dengue Immunity May be Protective against Symptomatic Zika, Says Study
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A new study, conducted by researchers in Nicaragua, finds that children with a history of prior dengue virus infection had a significantly lower risk of being symptomatic when infected by the Zika virus. The study, on more than 3,000 children between the ages of 2 to 14 years, indicate that prior dengue immunity in children may be protective against symptomatic Zika disease.

The research was conducted by investigators at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the University of California, Berkeley; the Ministry of Health in Managua, Nicaragua; and the Sustainable Sciences Institute, in Managua. The research was supported in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

While dengue was present in the Americas for decades, the Zika virus was not reported till 2015. Notably, both viruses are transmitted by the Aedesaegypti mosquitoes and show similar symptoms like fever, rash, and joint pain.

In fact in some cases of Zika virus infection, neurological issues and infection during pregnancy can lead to birth defects and development problems in babies like microcephaly.

Researchers opined that it has been observed in some settings that a second dengue infection was far more severe than the first and since dengue and zika are closely related they felt it is important to know whether the deadly Zika following a dengue infection could be more severe. Notably, to examining the relationship, study authors looked into the 2016 epidemic of Zika, in a long-lasting cohort of children in Managua, many of whom had histories of dengue infection.

In the study, researchers found that among the 3,893 children aged 2-14 years, there were an estimated 1,356 Zika infections, 560 of which were symptomatic cases between the time period of January 2016 through to February 2017.

Using data from the last 15 years, investigators determined exposure histories for 3,027 of the children, of which 743 children had at least one dengue infection.

The researchers concluded that children with a previous dengue virus infection before March 2015 had a significantly lower risk of symptomatic Zika virus infection.

However, study authors determined that prior dengue virus infections did not affect the rate of total Zika virus infections.

The data thus showcased that prior dengue immunity in children may be protective against symptomatic Zika infection, according to the authors.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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