In 2016 and 2017, Zika virus (ZIKV) infection outbreaks occurred in two communities in southern Thailand. This re-immerging infection can widely spread by mosquito bites and cause serious complications in a central nervous system among children born to infected mothers. Thus, they should be protected. This study aims to (1) To determine the prevalence of neutralizing ZIKV antibodies in the post-outbreak areas among the general population and pregnancy women residing at various distances from the houses of the nearest index patients; (2) To examine the cross-neutralizing capacity of antibodies against ZIKV on other flaviviruses commonly found in the study areas; (3) To identify factors associated with the presence of neutralizing ZIKV antibodies.
The two post-outbreak communities were visited at 18 months after the outbreaks. We enrolled (1) 18 confirmed ZIKV infected (index) cases, (2) sample of 554 neighbors in the outbreak areas who lived at various distances from the index patients’ houses, (3) 190 residents of non-outbreak areas, and (4) all pregnant women regardless of gestational age residing in the study areas (n = 805). All serum specimens underwent the plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT). Ten randomly selected ZIKV seropositive and ten randomly selected seronegative specimens were tested for dengue virus serotypes 1-4 (DENV1-4) and Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) antibodies using PRNT90. Serum titer above 1:10 was considered positive. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess factors associated with seropositivity.
Out of all 18 index cases, 9 remained seropositive. The seroprevalence (95% CI) in the two outbreak areas were 43.7% (35.9-51.6%) and 29.7% (23.3-36.0%) in general population, and 24.3% (20.1-28.8%) and 12.8% (9.7-16.5%) in pregnant women. Multivariate analysis showed that seropositivity was independent of the distance gradient from the index’s houses. However, being elderly was associated with seropositivity. DENV1-4 and JEV neutralizing antibodies were present in most ZIKV-positive and negative subsamples.
Protective herd immunity for ZIKV infection is inadequate, especially among pregnant women in the two post-outbreak areas in southern Thailand.