Frequency of Zika Virus Immunoglobulin M Antibody in Persons with West Nile Virus Infection.
West Nile virus (WNV) and Zika virus (ZIKV) are mosquito-borne viruses in the family . Residents in, and travelers to, areas where the viruses are circulating are at risk for infection, and both viruses can cause an acute febrile illness. Given known cross-reactivity in flavivirus serologic assays, it is possible a patient with acute WNV infection could be misdiagnosed as having ZIKV infection if appropriate testing is not conducted. To understand how frequently persons with WNV infection have detectable cross-reactive ZIKV immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody, we used archived serum samples from patients in the United States with recent WNV infection confirmed by a microsphere-based immunoassay test for IgM antibody and neutralizing antibody testing. Samples were tested for ZIKV IgM antibody with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ZIKV IgM antibody capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Among 153 sera from patients with acute WNV infection, the ZIKV IgM antibody result was positive in 56 (37%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 29-44%) and equivocal in 28 (18%; 95% CI 13-25%). With 55% of samples having cross-reactive antibodies, it is important for health care providers to request appropriate testing based on the most likely cause of a patient’s possible arboviral infection considering their clinical symptoms and signs, travel history, and place of residence. For cases where the epidemiology does not support the preliminary IgM findings, confirmatory neutralizing antibody testing should be performed. These measures will avoid an incorrect diagnosis of ZIKV infection, based on cross-reactive antibodies, in a person truly infected with WNV.