(AP) — NEW YORK — The worrisome Zika virus apparently has been in Brazil at least a year longer than experts previously thought, according to new research.
Some experts have speculated the virus first came to the Americas sometime in 2014. But the new study – led by Brazilian researchers – concludes Zika landed in Brazil a year earlier.
The researchers coupled cutting-edge genetic sequencing of the virus with an analysis of human travel patterns.
They succeeded in piecing together “a very compelling story about both the route and the date of introduction of this virus into the Americas,” said Dr. Ian Lipkin, a prominent infectious disease specialist at New York’s Columbia University.
The sequence information may also help in future understanding of how the virus causes disease, Lipkin said. But it remains a mystery why the virus is increasingly linked to serious birth defects and other health problems, he added.