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Chikungunya virus and maternal infection; and more

Chikungunya virus, an infectious agent transmitted by mosquitoes, appears seldom to harm infants of mothers infected early in pregnancy, but can frequently cause serious problems, including lasting brain injury, in babies born to mothers who acquire the virus near the time of delivery, according to a study in PLoS Medicine.

During a 2005-2006 chikungunya outbreak in the Indian Ocean, physicians from the Island of La Réunion and Marc Lecuit of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, gathered information on more than 7,000 women delivering babies at a hospital in the southern part of this island. They also studied the health of babies born to these women.

The researchers determined that 700 of the new mothers had been infected with chikungunya virus at some point between conception and 3 days before delivery. Among these women 3 early fetal deaths were associated with infection, but otherwise none were found to have transmitted chikungunya to their infants. In contrast, among 39 mothers who became infected within 2 days before or after delivery, 19 babies became infected. All of the infected babies were born healthy but developed fever, weakness, and pain within 3-7 days. Ten of these babies became seriously ill--nine developed brain swelling, and two had bleeding into the brain. Disabilities persisted in four children at the end of the study several months later.

The researchers conclude that clinicians and public health officers must remain alert to the threat that chikungunya virus poses to newborn children whenever outbreaks occur, and that clinicians should monitor babies exposed to chikungunya virus around delivery for a week after their birth, and be prepared to provide them with supportive treatment in the hospital.

Chikungunya virus was first isolated from a patient in Tanzania in the early 1950s. Since then, major outbreaks of chikungunya fever have occurred throughout sub-Saharan Africa and in Southeast Asia, India, and the Western Pacific, usually at intervals of about 7-8 years. The virus causes fever, rash, and severe joint and muscle pains, usually within 3-7 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito.

In a related Policy Forum, Thomas Scott of the University of California, Davis and colleagues, who were not involved in the study, discuss how suppression of carrying mosquitoes is a practical method to control urban dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya viruses.


Citation: Gerardin P, Barau G, Michault A, Bintner M, Randrianaivo H, et al. (2008) Multidisciplinary prospective study of mother-to-child chikungunya virus infections on the Island of La Reunion. PLoS Med 5(3): e60.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050060

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-05-03-lecuit.pdf

FRENCH TRANSLATION OF THE ABSTRACT: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-05-03-lecuit-french-abstract.doc

Marion Doucet
Institut Pasteur
Service de Presse - Press Office
25-28 rue du docteur Roux
75724 Paris cedex 15
+ 33 1 45 68 89 28
+ 33 1 40 61 30 30

Related PLoS Medicine Policy Forum:

Citation: Morrison AC, Zielinski-Gutierrez E, Scott TW, Rosenberg R (2008) Defining challenges and proposing solutions for control of the virus vector Aedes aegypti. PLoS Med 5(3): e68.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050068

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-05-03-scott.pdf

Thomas Scott
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, California 95616
United States of America
+1 530-754-4196
+1 530-752-1537 (fax)


α+-thalassaemia and malarial anaemia

In research published this week in PLoS Medicine, Karen Day of New York University and colleagues from the University of Oxford and the Papua New Guinea show that increased microcytic erythrocyte count may contribute substantially to the protection of α+-thalassaemia-homozygous children against severe malaria anaemia.

Citation: Fowkes FJI, Allen SJ, Allen A, Alpers MP, Weatherall DJ, et al. (2008) Increased microerythrocyte count in homozygous α+-thalassaemia contributes to protection against severe malarial anaemia. PLoS Med 5(3): e56.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050056

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-05-03-day.pdf

Lorindaann Klein
New York University Medical Center
Office of Communications & Public Affairs
New York, NY 10010
United States of America
+1 212 404 3595

Karen Day
New York University Medical Center
School of Medicine
341 East 25th Street
New York, NY 10010
United States of America
+1 212 263 4362 (Office)
+1 212 263 6765 (Lab) (First Alternate Telephone)

About PLoS Medicine

PLoS Medicine is an open access, freely available international medical journal. It publishes original research that enhances our understanding of human health and disease, together with commentary and analysis of important global health issues. For more information, visit http://www.plosmedicine.org

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org

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