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Dr. Eleonora SchönherrPresse- & ÖffentlichkeitsarbeitPhone: +49 40 42818-269
Mail: presse(at)bnitm.de

Julia HäberleinPresse- & ÖffentlichkeitsarbeitPhone: +49 40 42818-264
Mail: presse(at)bnitm.de

Malaria Impairs Zika Test

Infections with the Zika virus often take such a mild course that the persons don’t notice that they are infected. If, however, pregnant women are affected the virus can cause severe child malformations. In these cases, a reliable diagnosis is of utmost importance.

Microtiter plate, standard tool for the ELISA (Enzyme-Linked-Immunosorbent Assay) technique. It contains 96 small wells, in which the diagnostic reactions take place. Commonly, a part of an infectious agent, the antigen, is fixed to the bottom of the well. After adding a diluted serum sample and washing, bound antibodies are being visualised by mouse antibodies, which are directed to human antibodies and labelled with an enzyme catalysing a colour change.
Microtiter plate, standard tool for the ELISA (Enzyme-Linked-Immunosorbent Assay) technique. It contains 96 small wells, in which the diagnostic reactions take place. Commonly, a part of an infectious agent, the antigen, is fixed to the bottom of the well. After adding a diluted serum sample and washing, bound antibodies are being visualised by mouse antibodies, which are directed to human antibodies and labelled with an enzyme catalysing a colour change.

A widespread method to detect an ongoing or past infection is based on the detection of serum antibodies directed to the virus. Together with our cooperation partners, we have found that the overall quite reliable test for Zika antibodies may be impaired by other infections such as malaria, occasionally causing false-positive results. Such mistakes would be disastrous if, in pregnant women, they would lead to unnecessary abortions.


Schwarz N.G. et al., PloS One 2016, 12:e0176708

Norbert Schwarz, Eva Mertens, Doris Winter, Oumou Maiga-Ascofare, Denise Dekker, Stefanie Jansen, Dennis Tappe, Jürgen May, Jonas Schmidt- Chanasit and external cooperation partners (see publication)