Seroprevalence of cytomegalovirus among pregnant women in Windhoek, Namibia, 2016.

Berta Elizabeth Van der Colf, Gert Uve Van Zyl, Shonag Beatrice Penelope Mackenzie



Background:  Seroprevalence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) is high in developing countries. However, this does not exclude the risk for congenital CMV infection in pregnancies where the mothers have pre-existing immunity.

Objectives:  This study aimed to determine the seroprevalence of CMV among pregnant women attending the public antenatal clinic at Windhoek Central Hospital, Namibia, in 2016. Participants were evaluated for recent CMV infections to determine the risk for vertical transmission and congenital CMV infection.

Study design:  Three hundred and forty-four pregnant women consented to participate in the study.  A blood sample was collected and demographic information was captured using a questionnaire.  Serum was tested for anti-CMV IgG and IgM using an automated chemiluminescence assay.  Specific IgG avidity was assessed using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.  Data were analysed with SPSS and R. Fisher’s exact test was used to determine associations among variables.

Results:  Seroprevalence of anti-CMV IgG among pregnant women aged 15-48 years was 100%. Eleven participants (3.2%) had a positive or greyzone anti-CMV IgM result. Specific IgG avidity was high in all of these cases. Nor maternal age nor gestational age was positively associated with a positive or grey zone IgM result.  Parity showed an association with seroprevalence of CMV IgM, with the highest seroprevalence observed in women who had one previous pregnancy.

Conclusion:  This was the first study to investigate seroprevalence of CMV in Namibia. Despite the high seroprevalence of CMV among pregnant women, the Namibian population might carry the burden of congenital CMV infection among infants. This may contribute to long term disability, especially sensorineural hearing loss. Further studies are needed to determine the prevalence of congenital CMV in Namibia and neonatal surveillance studies may be important to establish the prevalence of congenital CMV disease. Aspects like timing of viral infection should be considered in the design of future studies.


Authors' affiliations

Berta Elizabeth Van der Colf, Namibia University of Science and Technology

Gert Uve Van Zyl, Stellenbosch University

Shonag Beatrice Penelope Mackenzie, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia

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Cytomegalovirus; Pregnant women; Seroprevalence; IgG avidity; Namibia

Cite this article

South African Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2019;25(2):. DOI:10.7196/sajog.1441

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-01-17
Date published: 2019-11-06

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