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Following the Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in the Americas, ZIKV was causally associated with microcephaly and a range of neurological and developmental symptoms, termed congenital Zika syndrome (CZS). The isolates responsible for this outbreak belonged to the Asian lineage of ZIKV. However, in-vitro and in-vivo studies assessing the pathogenesis of African-lineage ZIKV demonstrated that African-lineage isolates often replicated to high titer and caused more severe pathology than Asian-lineage isolates. To date, the pathogenesis of African-lineage ZIKV in a translational model, particularly during pregnancy, has not been rigorously characterized. Here we infected four pregnant rhesus macaques with a low-passage strain of African-lineage ZIKV and compared its pathogenesis to a cohort of four pregnant rhesus macaques infected with an Asian-lineage isolate and a cohort of mock-infected controls. Viral replication kinetics were not significantly different between the two experimental groups and both groups developed robust neutralizing antibody titers above levels considered to be protective. There was no evidence of significant fetal head growth restriction or gross fetal harm at delivery in either group. However, a significantly higher burden of ZIKV vRNA was found in maternal-fetal interface tissues in the macaques exposed to an African-lineage isolate. Our findings suggest that ZIKV isolates of any genetic lineage pose a threat to women and their infants.

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