Nature paper shows power of genomic surveillance of Zika

Data published in Nature this week shows the power of genomic surveillance of outbreaks.

Researchers from the UK worked with Brazilian teams, travelling through north-east Brazil using the MinION device to analyse Zika genomes. This ZIBRA Project team found that Zika began circulating in the area early in 2014, before the link with microcephaly was understood.

Clive Cookson writes in the FT: "The UK Team travelled 2,000km across Brazil with mobile DNA reading equipment.  "We found that north-east Brazil, which was the region with the most recorded cases of Zika and microcephaly, was the nexus of the epidemic...and played a key role in its spread within Brazil to major urban centres, such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, before spreading across the Americas." said Oliver Pybus of Oxford University."

Nick Loman and Oliver Pybus, both authors of the paper, recently presented at the London Calling conference, highlighting the role that genomic surveillance of an outbreak could in creating effective public health strategies to prevent an outbreak turning into an epidemic.  Watch their presentations here:

Review the ZIBRA protocol publication featured in Nature.

Read "A sequencing road trip at the heartland of Zika virus in the Americas", a post by ZIBRA member Nuno Faria at Nature Microbiology

Read Nature's 'News and Views' article "Epidemiology: Molecular mapping of Zika spread"