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Volume 21, Number 10—October 2015

Zika Virus Transmission from French Polynesia to Brazil

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To the Editor: Campos et al. (1) reported a Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in Brazil in 2015. This response adds complementary data related to the propagation of this mosquitoborne disease.

To date, the largest ZIKV outbreak occurred in French Polynesia during 2013–2014. The outbreak spread to other Pacific Islands: New Caledonia, Cook Islands, Easter Island, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands (2). The origin of introduction of ZIKV to French Polynesia remains unknown; introduction of ZIKV in New Caledonia was after imported cases from French Polynesia (3); introduction to Easter Island was suspected to have occurred among attendees of the annual Tapati festival, including those from French Polynesia (4). The virus was likely transmitted to New Caledonia, Cook Islands, and Easter Island when infected travelers from French Polynesia were bitten by vectors while on the islands. Frequent travel between New Caledonia and Vanuatu is likely related to the introduction of ZIKV in the latter country.

Phylogenetic studies showed that the closest strain to the one that emerged in Brazil was isolated from samples from case-patients in French Polynesia and spread among the Pacific Islands (1); both strains belong to the Asian lineage. It has been assumed that ZIKV was introduced to Brazil during a World Cup soccer competition in 2014 (5), although no ZIKV-endemic Pacific countries competed. However, in August 2014, the Va’a World Sprint Championship canoe race was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Four Pacific countries (French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Cook Islands, and Easter Island) in which ZIKV circulated during 2014 had teams engaged in this contest in several categories. These data combined with phylogenetic studies by Zanluca et al. (5) suggest that ZIKV introduction in Brazil may have been a consequence of this event. In areas where potential vectors are present, vigilance should be enhanced to detect imported cases of ZIKV, and laboratory capacity to confirm suspected ZIKV infections should be strengthened.


Didier MussoComments to Author 
Author affiliation: Institut Louis Malardé, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia



  1. Campos  GS, Bandeira  AC, Sardi  SI. Zika virus outbreak, Bahia, Brazil. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015 Oct [cited 2016 Jul 7].
  2. Musso  D, Cao-Lormeau  V, Gubler  D. Zika virus: following the path of dengue and chikungunya? Lancet. 2015;386:2434. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Dupont-Rouzeyrol  M, O’Connor  O, Calvez  E, Daurès  M, John  M, Grangeon  JP, Co-infection with Zika and dengue viruses in 2 patients, New Caledonia, 2014. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015;21:3812. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Schwan  K. Zika virus—Pacific (07): Chile (Easter Island), French Polynesia (07). ProMedmail. 2014 Mar 9 [cited 2016 Jul 7]., archive no. 20140309.2322907.
  5. Zanluca  C, de Melo  VCA, Mosimann  ALP, dos Santos  GIV, dos Santos  CND, Luz  K. First report of autochthonous transmission of Zika virus in Brazil. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2015;110:56972. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar


Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2110.151125

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Table of Contents – Volume 21, Number 10—October 2015


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Didier Musso, Institut Louis Malardé, PO Box 30, 98713 Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

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