West Nile, A Pregnancy Danger? (cont.)

Pregnancy Related Links


Interim Guidelines for the Evaluation of Infants Born to Mothers Infected with West Nile Virus During Pregnancy

West Nile virus (WNV) is a single-stranded RNA flavivirus with antigenic similarities to Japanese encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis viruses. It is transmitted to humans primarily through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Flavivirus infection during pregnancy has been associated rarely with both spontaneous abortion and neonatal illness but has not been known to cause birth defects in humans (1--4). During 2002, a total of 4,156 cases of WNV illness in humans, including 2,946 cases of neuroinvasive disease, were reported to CDC by state health departments. In 2002, a woman who had WNV encephalitis during the 27th week of her pregnancy delivered a full-term infant with chorioretinitis, cystic destruction of cerebral tissue, and laboratory evidence of congenitally acquired WNV infection (5,6). Although this case demonstrated intrauterine WNV infection in an infant with congenital abnormalities, it did not prove a causal relation between WNV infection and these abnormalities. During 2002, CDC investigated three other instances of maternal WNV infection. In all three cases, the infants were born at full term with normal appearance and negative laboratory tests for WNV infection; cranial imaging studies and ophthalmologic examinations were not performed. During 2003, CDC received reports of approximately 9,100 cases of WNV illness, including approximately 2,600 cases of neuroinvasive disease*. CDC is gathering data on pregnancy outcomes for approximately 70 women with WNV illness during pregnancy (CDC, unpublished data, 2003).

To develop guidelines for evaluating infants born to mothers who acquire WNV infection during pregnancy, on December 2, 2003, CDC convened a meeting of specialists in the evaluation of congenital infections. This report summarizes the interim guidelines established during that meeting.

Screening for WNV During Pregnancy