Zika virus (ZIKV) was isolated from the archival urine, serum, and autopsy specimens by intrathoracic inoculation of Toxorhynchitis splendens and followed by three blind sub-passaging in C6/36 mosquito cells. The virus isolates were identified using an immunofluorescence assay and real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (real-time RT-PCR). This study analyzed 11 ZIKV isolates. One isolate (0.6%) was obtained from 171 urine samples, eight (8.7%) from 92 serum samples and two from tissues of an abortive fetus. After propagation in C6/36 cells, ZIKV was titrated by plaque and focus forming unit (FFU) assays in Vero cell monolayers, and viral genomes were determined via real-time and digital RT-PCR. Plaque and FFU assay quantitations were comparable, with the amount of infectious viruses averaging 106-107 PFU or FFU/ml. Real-time RT-PCR semi-quantified the viral genome numbers, with Ct values varying from 12 to 14. Digital RT-PCR, which precisely determines the numbers of the viral genomes, consistently averaged 10-100 times higher than the number of infectious units. There was good correlation between the results of these titration methods. Therefore, the selection of a method should be based on the objectives of each research studies.
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