Systematic Hospital-Based Travel Screening to Assess Exposure to Zika Virus

Aftab Iqbal; Robert Colgrove; Vito Iacoviello; Barbra M. Blair; Lin H. Chen


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2020;26(2):315-319. 

In This Article


We used a systematic travel screening question to analyze potential exposure to ZIKV in a hospital population. Because up to 80% of ZIKV infections are asymptomatic,[2] we used travel to Zika-affected countries as a proxy for potential ZIKV exposure. In patients with international travel ≤30 days before seeking treatment, 31.4% visited countries with ZIKV transmission. Half of the female patients and most male patients were of reproductive age. In this population, 30% of female patients who were of reproductive age or pregnant reported travel with potential exposure to ZIKV; male patients similarly were affected. Despite severe restrictions on testing for ZIKV infection at the time of the study, our analysis demonstrated the ability to identify patients with clinical findings that fit the ZIKV case definition even if they were not tested. We also identified a large proportion of patients who should have received Zika pretravel counseling.

Analysis of the hospitalwide data for recent travel history provided a tool to assess the proportion of the population that might have been exposed to ZIKV. These data could inform population-based ZIKV vaccination needs in the future. In addition, systematic travel screening also could be applied to other imported emerging infections in the future.