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Zika and Dengue Coinfection: What Do We Know?

Stephen Redd, MD (RADM, USPHS), Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), explains what is currently known about Zika and Dengue coinfection.

Stephen Redd, MD (RADM, USPHS), Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), explains what is currently known about Zika and Dengue coinfection.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“From what we know now, previous infection with a mosquito-borne virus doesn’t change the susceptibility or the clinical spectrum of illness with Zika virus. The one thing that is a little bit complicated is that it can make [the infection] harder to diagnose. There are two different kinds of tests that are used to diagnose Zika. The first test is actually looking for a part of the virus itself and that test, depending on what specimen is tested, could be [done] a week or two weeks after symptom onset.

The other test measures the body’s response to the infection: the immune response. If you’ve had prior infection with Dengue, in particular, that [infection] can cause this test to be difficult to interpret because some of the same antibodies—the same response from the body—can be the same in both viruses. That’s where there can be cross-reactivity between the body’s response for Dengue and for Zika.”