KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) -- Ugandan researchers say the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus is not considered a threat in the African country where it was first discovered in a monkey in 1947.

Julius Lutwama, a virologist with the Uganda Virus Research Institute who has long investigated Zika, said Wednesday there has never been a known outbreak in Uganda though a few samples have tested positive over the years.

He said Zika is "not a very important disease" on a continent where malaria, also transmitted by mosquitoes, is the major killer.

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Zika virus is named for a forest just outside Uganda's capital, Kampala, where it was first identified.

Zika is suspected in a surge of birth defects in Brazil, where infections were first identified last year.