The Evolution of Zika

Pedro Fernando da Costa Vasconcelos, MD, PhD, director of WHO Collaborating Center for Arbovirus and Research, Evandro Chagas Institute, explains how Zika has evolved since the 1960s.

Pedro Fernando da Costa Vasconcelos, MD, PhD, director of WHO Collaborating Center for Arbovirus and Research, Evandro Chagas Institute, explains how Zika has evolved since the 1960s.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“[The] Zika virus [strains] that have been isolated and are circulating presently in the Americas are the same that were reported [to be] circulating in different Asian and Pacific Islands before they arrived here in the Americas. The evolution of these strains began in the 1960s, when the virus [spread] from Africa to Asia and generated a new genotype, the Asian genotype. This Asian genotype is the genotype that is currently circulating in Latin America [and North America].

This genotype is a little bit different from the African genotype, and the present lineage that is [circulating] in Latin America has very few differences from the virus [that was circulating in] the 1960s. The evolution of this virus was normal; the consequence [is that it hasn’t] changed too much, compared with the ancestral virus [strain].”