Zika virus gets examined in Research Triangle Park

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK (WTVD) -- The Zika virus got put under the microscope in Research Triangle Park Tuesday.

Researchers and scientists gathered at RTI International to discuss our state's role in the research, prevention and response to the virus that's linked to severe birth defects.

People who see smaller than average heads, and hear about underdeveloped brains in affected babies are alarmed.

"I think there's every reason to be worried," said Rep. David Price from the 4th Congressional District. "This is an epidemic that's creeping on us. There are already hundreds of cases in Puerto Rico, some in Florida. It's coming this way."

That's one reason for the combating Zika forum at RTI International.

"There's a lot not known about, by the general public and also by the scientific public, about the mosquitoes involved here," said Dr. Michael Reiskind from NC State University.

Health and scientific researchers are sharing the results of their studies for the primary focus of combating the virus and easing fears felt by people who hear that certain mosquitoes transmit Zika.

"How dangerous is it? What do we need to know, what do we need to do? But also, I must say I'm concerned about the congressional dysfunction creeping into this and denying even the basic funding that we need to move forward," Price said.

While that battle continues in Washington, the panelists in RTP stress the importance of mosquito control, since those pests do annoy many North Carolinians at this time of year - but they're not the only transmitters of Zika.

"How much can this be sexually transmitted, and in what period of time," Price said. "There's an amazing amount we don't know."

He added that he wants the public to let congress know that this is a crisis that warrants targeted funding now, before the virus spreads.

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