The Zika virus currently sweeping through the Americas looks to have hitched a ride on a plane into Brazil in 2013 and begun its invasion of the continent from there, scientists said on Thursday. In the first genome analysis of the current Zika epidemic, which has been linked in Brazil to cases of birth defects known as microcephaly, researchers said the virus' introduction to the Americas almost three years ago coincided with a 50 percent rise in air passengers from Zika-affected areas. The strain of the virus circulating in the current outbreak is most closely related to one from French Polynesia, the scientists said, although it is also possible that Zika was introduced separately to the Americas and French Polynesia from South East Asia.
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