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

B E Van der Colf, G U Van Zyl, S B P Mackenzie


Background. Seroprevalence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) is high in developing countries. However, a pregnant woman’s immunity does not necessarily protect her baby against congenital CMV infection. 

Objectives. To determine the seroprevalence of CMV among pregnant women attending a public antenatal clinic (Windhoek Central Hospital, Namibia) and subsequently determine the risk of vertical transmission and congenital CMV infection. 

Methods. Blood samples and demographic information were collected from 344 pregnant women (age range 15 - 48 years). Serum was tested for anti-CMV IgG and IgM using an automated chemiluminescence assay, and an ELISA was used to assess specific IgG avidity. Fisher’s exact test was used to determine associations among variables. 

Results. Seroprevalence of anti-CMV IgG was found to be 100% across the study population, with positive or grey-zone anti-CMV IgM results found in 11 women (3.2%). Specific IgG avidity was high in all cases. Neither maternal nor gestational age was positively associated with a positive or grey-zone IgM result. Parity was significantly associated with CMV IgM seroprevalence, with the highest level observed in women who had had one previous pregnancy. 

Conclusion. This was the first study to investigate seroprevalence of CMV in Namibia. Despite the high seroprevalence among pregnant women, the burden of congenital CMV infection may be carried by infants in the Namibian population. This may contribute to long-term disabilities, especially sensorineural hearing loss. Further studies are needed to determine the prevalence of congenital CMV in Namibia.

Authors' affiliations

B E Van der Colf, Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Windhoek, Namibia. Division of Medical Virology, Department of Pathology, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa.

G U Van Zyl, Division of Medical Virology, Department of Pathology, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa. National Health Laboratory Service, Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

S B P Mackenzie, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia. Department Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ministry of Health and Social Services, 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):52-55. DOI:10.7196/sajog.1441

Article History

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

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