Analyses of Early ZIKV Genomes Are Consistent with Viral Spread from Northeast Brazil to the Americas

Laise de Moraes, Moyra M. Portilho, Bram Vrancken, Frederik Van den Broeck, Luciane Amorim Santos, Marina Cucco, Laura B. Tauro, Mariana Kikuti, Monaise M.O. Silva, Gúbio S. Campos, Mitermayer G. Reis, Aldina Barral, Manoel Barral-Netto, Viviane Sampaio Boaventura, Anne Mieke Vandamme, Kristof Theys, Philippe Lemey, Guilherme S. Ribeiro, Ricardo Khouri

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The Americas, particularly Brazil, were greatly impacted by the widespread Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in 2015 and 2016. Efforts were made to implement genomic surveillance of ZIKV as part of the public health responses. The accuracy of spatiotemporal reconstructions of the epidemic spread relies on the unbiased sampling of the transmission process. In the early stages of the outbreak, we recruited patients exhibiting clinical symptoms of arbovirus-like infection from Salvador and Campo Formoso, Bahia, in Northeast Brazil. Between May 2015 and June 2016, we identified 21 cases of acute ZIKV infection and subsequently recovered 14 near full-length sequences using the amplicon tiling multiplex approach with nanopore sequencing. We performed a time-calibrated discrete phylogeographic analysis to trace the spread and migration history of the ZIKV. Our phylogenetic analysis supports a consistent relationship between ZIKV migration from Northeast to Southeast Brazil and its subsequent dissemination beyond Brazil. Additionally, our analysis provides insights into the migration of ZIKV from Brazil to Haiti and the role Brazil played in the spread of ZIKV to other countries, such as Singapore, the USA, and the Dominican Republic. The data generated by this study enhances our understanding of ZIKV dynamics and supports the existing knowledge, which can aid in future surveillance efforts against the virus.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1236
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • arboviruses
  • genomic surveillance
  • phylogenetics
  • vector-borne infections
  • Zika


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