Oxford, UK / Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – A genetic study conducted by scientists from Britain’s University of Oxford and Brazil‘s Evandr o Chagas Institute says the Zika virus may have enter America back in 2013, a year before it was reported in Brazil. The study was published in the US journal Science on Thursday.

Researchers have conducted the first genome analysis of the current Zika epidemic and found some interesting results. They said the virus’ introduction to the Americas almost three years ago coincided with a 50% rise in air passengers coming from Zika-affected areas.

People make their way through fumigation fog, sprayed to kill Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that spread Zika, chikungunya and dengue, in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. Credit: CBC News/Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press

The group of scientist sequenced seven genomes of the Brazilian Zika virus, including one fatal adult case and one newborn with the birth condition microcephaly. The results showed that the virus had a single entry into the Americas, probably between May and December 2013. Brazil reported the country’s first Zika case in May 2015.

The virus might enter by plane

The researchers looked at airline data and found that at the same moment the virus entered the US, there was a 50% increase in air passengers to Brazil from Zika-endemic areas, and also with reported outbreaks in the Pacific Islands.
Oliver Pybus, a biologist at Britain’s Oxford University who co-led the research said the findings suggested increased international travel helped the virus extend its reach.

“We looked at broad-scale patterns of human movement and focused on air passengers who traveled to Brazil from countries that had reported Zika since 2012, From late 2012 onwards, there was a 50 percent rise in the number of passengers traveling to Brazil from countries with Zika,” Pybus explained as reported on FOX NEWS Health.

The scientist said the strain of the virus circulating in the current outbreak is most closely related to one from French Polynesia. One hypothesis discussed by the researchers involved the virus introduction during the Confederations Cup soccer tournament, which involved French Polynesian participation from Tahiti.

Americans take precautions against Zika virus

Up to the moment, there have been travel-associated cases of Zika reported in 32 U.S states. Furthermore, The U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Samoa have had Zika transmissions, though there have been no active transmissions yet in the states.

So, as the worries link to the disease increase, the sales on mosquito repellents do too. Sara Skirboll, director of public relations at RetailMeNot said that about 58% of Americans plan to purchase some type of insect repellent, whether in the form of spray, candles, or protective clothing, to ward off mosquitoes and help ease Zika fears.

According to a research made by RetailMeNot, 54% of people in the Midwest and 53% of people in the South purchased insect repellent to reduce the risk of contracting Zika, compared to 45% of those in the Northeast and 46% of those in western states.

Source: Fox News