Serological Evidence of Zika Virus Infection in Febrile Patients and Healthy Blood Donors in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, 2017–2018

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  • 1 Department of Virology, Institute of Tropical Medicine and Leading Program, Nagasaki University, Nagasaki, Japan;
  • | 2 Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia;
  • | 3 Department of Transfusion Medicine, Queen Elizabeth Hospital II, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia;
  • | 4 Putatan District Health Office, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Putatan, Sabah, Malaysia;
  • | 5 Kota Kinabalu Public Health Laboratory, Sabah State Health Department, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia;
  • | 6 Borneo Medical and Health Research Center, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Several Zika virus (ZIKV) seroprevalence studies have been conducted in Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Americas, and the Caribbean. However, studies on ZIKV seroprevalence are limited in Malaysia though several studies have shown that the disease is endemic in the Malaysian state of Sabah. To evaluate the seroprevalence of ZIKV infection, 818 serum samples were collected from febrile patients and healthy blood donors from the Kudat and Kota Kinabalu districts in Sabah from 2017 to 2018. They were screened for ZIKV infection by IgM and IgG ELISA, and positive ZIKV IgM samples were subjected to a 90% neutralization test for confirmation. Twenty-four (6% [95% CI 4 to 8]) confirmed and two (0.5% [95% CI 0.13 to 1.8]) probable ZIKV infections were detected among 400 febrile illness patients. Of 418 healthy blood donor samples, six (1.4% [95% CI 0.65 to 3]) were determined as confirmed ZIKV infections and six (1.4% [95% CI 0.65 to 3]) indicated probable ZIKV infection. This is the first study on the seroprevalence of ZIKV infections among patients and healthy blood donors in Sabah. Compared with previous studies in Malaysia, this study shows that the incidence of ZIKV infection has increased. It also suggests that a sero-surveillance system is essential to determine the circulation of ZIKV in Sabah, Malaysia.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Kouichi Morita, Department of Virology, Institute of Tropical Medicine and Leading Program, Nagasaki University, 1-12-4 Sakamoto, Nagasaki 852-8523, Japan, E-mail: moritak@nagasaki-u.ac.jp or Kamrudin Ahmed, Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, E-mail: ahmed@ums.edu.my.

Financial support: This work was supported by Japan Agency of Medical Research (AMED) under the grant number JP21wm0125006, JP21wm0225017 (Japan program for infectious Diseases Research and Infrastructure), Joint research of Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University (2020- Ippan- 26) and Launching Grant for Centre of Excellence from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (Grant Number: AM 18006).

Authors’ addresses: Mya Myat Ngwe Tun, Aung Min Soe, Khine Mya Nwe, Shingo Inoue, and Kouichi Morita, Department of Virology, Institute of Tropical Medicine and Leading Program, Nagasaki University, Nagasaki, Japan, E-mails: myamyat@tm.nagasaki-u.ac.jp, dr.aungminnsoe@gmail.com, drkhinemyanwe@gmail.com, pampanga@nagasaki-u.ac.jp, and moritak@nagasaki-u.ac.jp. Daisuke Mori, Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, E-mail: daisuke.mori.0128@gmail.com. Shahnaz Binti Sabri and Saliz Binti Shaharom, Department of Transfusion Medicine, Queen Elizabeth Hospital II, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, E-mails: shahnadz@yahoo.com and salizmazrine@gmail.com. Omar Kugan, Putatan District Health Office, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Putatan, Sabah, Malaysia, E-mail: kawngkugan@gmail.com. Jecelyn John, Kota Kinabalu Public Health Laboratory, Sabah State Health Department, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, E-mail: jecelyn@ums.edu.my. Jiloris Frederick Dony, Borneo Medical and Health Research Center, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, E-mail: jiloris@moh.gov.my. Kamrudin Ahmed, Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, and Kota Kinabalu Public Health Laboratory, Sabah State Health Department, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, E-mail: ahmed@ums.edu.my.

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