5 confirmed cases of Zika in NC; experts studying virus

CHAPEL HILL (WTVD) -- There are five confirmed cases of Zika in North Carolina according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, including one case in Wake County, and there are 109 pregnant women in the state still awaiting test results from the Center for Disease Control according to UNC Health Care.

Biomedical research experts at UNC said the number of cases is not high considering the amount of travelers that have areas with higher risk rates such as Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.


University researchers said the risk for locally transmitted cases in the US is minimal but said the number of imported cases is something to focus on.

UNC is assembling a team of experts to study the virus and its identifying markers, as there are still a lot of unanswered questions about it.

"We won't be able to develop a vaccine if we can't tell who is and who isn't infected," said David Weber, associate chief medical officer at UNC Health Care. "So our first effort has to be on diagnostics, and we're very involved in that."

"The second effort, which you've heard from research, is to develop more about the epidemiology - the questions you're concerned about - and so that is 'is it all phases of pregnancy? Is it only maybe weeks 12 through 14 (which we could provide better estimates to individuals)? How long can a male who is infected transmit disease? Will we find female to male transition? Are there other manifestations of Zika virus we don't know about?' "

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