Return of the founder Chikungunya virus to its place of introduction into Brazil is revealed by genomic characterization of exanthematic disease cases.
Pereira Gusmão Maia Z., Mota Pereira F., do Carmo Said RF., Fonseca V., Gräf T., de Bruycker Nogueira F., Brandão Nardy V., Xavier J., Lima Maia M., Abreu AL., Campelo de Albuquerque CF., Kleber Oliveira W., Croda J., de Filippis AMB., Venancio Cunha R., Lourenço J., de Oliveira T., Faria NR., Junior Alcantara LC., Giovanetti M.
Between June 2017 and August 2018, several municipalities located in Bahia state (Brazil) reported a large increase in the number of patients presenting with febrile illness similar to that of arboviral infections. Using a combination of portable whole genome sequencing, molecular clock and epidemiological analyses, we revealed the return of the CHIKV-ECSA genotype into Bahia. Our results show local persistence of lineages in some municipalities and the re-introduction of new epidemiological strains from different Brazilian regions, highlighting a complex dynamic of transmission between epidemic seasons and sampled locations. Estimated climate-driven transmission potential of CHIKV remained at similar levels throughout the years, such that large reductions in the total number of confirmed cases suggests a slow, but gradual accumulation of herd-immunity over the 4 years of the epidemic in Bahia after its introduction in 2014. Bahia remains a reservoir of the genetic diversity of CHIKV in the Americas, and genomic surveillance strategies are essential to assist in monitoring and understanding arboviral transmission and persistence both locally and over large distances.