New to Brazil (and now spreading possibly to neighboring countries such as Colombia and Venezuela, as well as Panama and El Salvador, and with the first reported case from Puerto Rico in the news today) Zika originated in Africa. Some researchers think it may have been introduced during the 2014 world cup which took place in Brazil, others postulate that it may have occurred during a canoe race afterwards with paddlers from French Polynesia, the site of a Zika outbreak in 2013.
Dengue fever, Chikungunya virus (see my post on this vírus) and Zika virus are spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The same mosquito species Aedes aegypti transmits all these 3 viruses, which is a concern as sick people may be co-infected with two of these viruses at the same time. These mosquitoes are mostly active during the daytime, and live in areas where water accumulates and where female mosquitos lay their eggs.
There are reports of a few Zika infections in returning travelers in the US, which the CDC fears may soon increase as a result of local spreading, as the transmitting mosquito is common in Florida and along the Mexican border. Tropical diseases, due to global warming (raising temperatures North and South of the Equator resulting in expansion of the habitats of insect vectors that transmit infectious diseases) and increased mobility of people around the world, may show more outbreaks in new regions more frequently in the future.