NC is Prepared for Zika Virus, Risk of Local Virus-carrying Mosquitoes Low

Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. – State health officials continue to encourage North Carolinians to take preventive measures against mosquito bites and to stay informed of the risk of Zika virus infection before traveling to areas with local, active transmission, now including Miami, Fla.

On Aug. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued travel, testing and other recommendations for people who traveled to or lived in a Miami, Fla. neighborhood after June 2016, when health officials discovered local transmission of the virus by mosquitoes.

Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infectious Aedes aegypti mosquito. This mosquito, to date, has not been identified in North Carolina, according to a statewide survey of mosquito populations being conducted in conjunction with researchers at East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, Western Carolina University and experts at local health departments. Currently, 33 travel-related cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in North Carolina. 

“The risk of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in North Carolina transmitting Zika virus is very low,” said State Public Health Veterinarian Carl Williams, DVM. “North Carolina’s efforts in Zika preparedness and response have positioned us well should local transmission occur. Nonetheless, it’s important for people to take preventive measures against mosquito bites and be aware of CDC guidance on travel to areas with active transmission.”

In response to Governor McCrory’s budget priorities, $477,500 was allocated to develop an infrastructure to detect, prevent, control and respond to the Zika virus and other vector-borne illnesses.The North Carolina Division of Public Health is using the funds to hire entomology and laboratory experts, and provide aid to counties across the state. Additionally, North Carolina has been awarded more than $1 million in grant funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address Zika, including surveillance, tracking and reporting of Zika pregnancy outcomes.

Symptoms of Zika virus include rash and red eyes. Less common symptoms include fever, joint pains and muscle aches. Only about one in five people infected with Zika virus will show symptoms. Sexual transmission of Zika virus is possible, and is of particular concern during pregnancy. 

A pregnant woman infected with Zika virus can pass the virus to her unborn baby. A serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly, and other adverse pregnancy outcomes have been reported in some mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel advisory recommending pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area with active Zika virus transmission. Women who are trying to become pregnant should talk to their doctors about the risk of Zika virus infection before traveling.

While the primary mosquito that carry Zika virus are not believed to be widespread in North Carolina, individuals are always encouraged, as a routine precaution, to take steps to prevent mosquito bites by:

  • Wearing insect repellent registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Using air conditioning or make sure window and door screens are in place.

For more information about Zika virus for patients and health care providers, please visit http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/zika.html or www.cdc.gov/zika.

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About the N.C. Division of Public Health Epidemiology, Communicable Disease Branch

The Division of Public Health Epidemiology, Communicable Disease Branch works with the public, local health departments and other public health agencies, healthcare professionals, educators, businesses, communities and healthcare facilities to protect and improve the health of people in North Carolina through disease detection, tracking, investigation, control, education, prevention and care activities.

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