IDR - Immune Diagnostics & Research

Emerging Problems in Infectious Diseases

Zika virus infection, associated microcephaly, and low yellow fever vaccination coverage in Brazil: is there any causal link?

Luciano Pamplona de Góes Cavalcanti, Pedro Luiz Tauil, Carlos Henrique Alencar, Wanderson Oliveira, Mauro Martins Teixeira, Jorg Heukelbach

Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, CE, Brazil



Introduction: Since the end of 2014, Zika virus (ZIKV) infection has been rapidly spreading in Brazil.

Methodology: To analyze the possible association of yellow fever vaccine with a protective effect against ZIKV-related microcephaly, the following spatial analyses were performed, using Brazilian municipalities as units: i) yellow fever vaccination coverage in Brazilian municipalities in individuals aged 15-49; ii) reported cases of microcephaly by municipality; and iii) confirmed cases of microcephaly related to ZIKV, by municipality. SaTScan software was used to identify clusters of municipalities for high risk of microcephaly.

Results: There were seven significant high risk clusters of confirmed microcephaly cases, with four of them located in the Northeast where yellow fever vaccination rates were the lowest. The clusters harbored only 2.9% of the total population of Brazil, but 15.2% of confirmed cases of microcephaly.

Conclusion: We hypothesize that pregnant women in regions with high yellow fever vaccination coverage may pose their offspring to lower risk for development of microcephaly. There is an urgent need for systematic studies to confirm the possible link between low yellow fever vaccination coverage, Zika virus infection and microcephaly.


Zika; Brazil; epidemiology

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