Where Zika Came From

From The Huffington Post
March 6, 2018

ZIKA FOREST, Uganda ― In a tangle of trees by the shores of East Africa’s mighty Lake Victoria, the soaring metal tower poking out of the forest canopy looks like a giant Olympic diving platform.

“It is where the scientists do the testing,” said Gerald Mukisa, forest guardian at the research site of the nearby Uganda Virus Research Institute, which carries out critical work to identify, trace and understand emerging diseases.

“Monkeys are placed at different heights and blood samples are taken,” Mukisa said, pointing to boards jutting out of the frame. The dozens of mosquito species in the forest here live and bite at different heights, so the boards help monitor their preferences.

Scientists used the 118-foot tower way back in 1947 to first identify a virus that, in 2015, became a global health emergency due to its ability to cause brain-related birth defects. They named the virus Zika, after this 30-acre forest in southern Uganda.

Read more