A review of severe thrombocytopenia in Zika patients – Pathophysiology, treatment and outcome

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Background: During the 2015 Zika virus infection (ZVI) epidemic swiping through the Americas, few cases of ZVI with severe, potentially life-threatening thrombocytopenia were reported. Platelet transfusion, corticosteroids and intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) were in most cases applied as therapeutic options, predominantly with success. We present a comprehensive overview concerning the pathophysiology, treatment strategies and outcomes of patients with ZVI and severe thrombocytopenia (platelet count <50 × 109/L). Method: A literature search was performed. Results: Eleven case reports and case series with a total of 28 patients met the inclusion criteria; including five cases with lethal outcome. Therapeutic strategies, including platelet transfusion, administration of steroids and/or IVIG were described in 24 cases. Conclusions: Severe thrombocytopenia is a rare, but potentially life-threatening complication of ZVI. The principal pathophysiological mechanism appears to immune-induced thrombocytopenia. Due to a paucity of cases, the optimal treatment strategy remains to be elucidated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102231
JournalTravel Medicine and Infectious Disease
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP)
  • Intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG)
  • Review
  • Steroid application
  • Zika virus infection

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