Microcephaly Caused by Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus

Maia Delaine; Anne-Sophie Weingertner; Antoine Nougairede; Quentin Lepiller; Samira Fafi-Kremer; Romain Favre; Rémi Charrel


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2017;23(9):1548-1550. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


We report congenital microencephaly caused by infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus in the fetus of a 29-year-old pregnant women at 23 weeks' gestation. The diagnosis was made by ultrasonography and negative results for other agents and confirmed by a positive PCR result for lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus in an amniotic fluid sample.


Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is an arenavirus, discovered by Armstrong and Lillie in 1933[1] that chronically infects small rodents. Humans can be infected by direct contact with rodents or their fomites, or by inhaling aerosolized particles.[2] In immunocompetent adults, LCMV infection leads to an influenza-like illness or aseptic meningitis that usually resolves spontaneously; infection can also be asymptomatic.[3]

When women are infected during pregnancy, the virus can be transmitted to the embryo or fetus transplacentally. Infection causes risk for miscarriage; in utero fetal death; fetopathy, including severe central nervous system or ocular malformations; and severe neurologic sequelae.

Little is known about the incidence and prevalence of LCMV. The association of Zika virus and microcephaly has been reviewed.[4] Therefore, it is essential to emphasize that other viruses acquired during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and must be considered in differential diagnoses. We report a case of microcephaly caused by LCMV that was diagnosed prenatally.