Zika Virus – A Brief History Zika Virus – A Brief History While most of us are only now hearing about the Zika virus, it was actually first discovered in 1947. Why haven’t we heard about it until now? Well, in short, it wasn’t such a widespread issue…in the beginning. That’s because as the virus spread to different climates, it also took on new traits and characteristics and now has evolved in to a strong and fast spreading virus. The Beginning 1947: While conducting routine surveillance for yellow fever in the Zika forest in Uganda, scientists isolate the Zika virus from samples taken from a captive, sentinel rhesus monkey. 1948: In the Zika forest, the mosquito Aedes africanus is caught on a tree platform and the virus is recovered. 1952: Human infection is first confirmed in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. These cases demonstrated neutralizing antibodies to Zika virus in sera. 2014: Geographical distribution of the virus is widening steadily and has been reported in 31 countries and territories of the Americas. Today February 1, 2016: The World Health Organization declares that the growing number of microcephaly cases and other associated issues are now a health emergency. March 8, 2016: The Emergency Committee meets for the second time to continue issuing a Public Health Emergency due to the cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological complications. Today: 52 territories and countries have reported local transmission of Zika. Currently there are 23 global and local partners participating in the response to the Zika virus. An increase in microcephaly and other neonatal malfunctions has been declared in Brazil and French Polynesia. Two cases linked to stays in Brazil were confirmed in the U.S. and Slovenia. Nine countries have reported an increase in Guillain-Barre Syndrome in the context of Zika.