NC officials monitoring Zika in ‘handful’ of pregnant women


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina public health officials are following the cases of a handful of pregnant women who have either tested positive for the Zika virus or got an indeterminate result on their test, the state epidemiologist said Friday.

Dr. Megan Davies told the state Emergency Response Commission that these pregnant women have agreed to be on the registry managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so that public health officials can follow their cases and learn more about the virus. Citing privacy reasons, she declined to give the exact number of pregnant women.

Zika is usually spread by mosquitoes, although sexual transmission also is possible. The greatest danger is when infection occurs in pregnancy.

About 75 percent of people with Zika have no symptoms, while others report a fever, rash or muscle aches, Davies told the commission.

Nineteen cases of Zika have been reported in North Carolina, all of them traveled-related. No cases of people contracting the virus from a mosquito in North Carolina have been reported.

No birth defects have been reported in the North Carolina cases, she said. Davies did not say how many — if any — of the pregnant women are among the state’s list of 19 confirmed cases. The pregnant women would not be included if they are being monitored for an indeterminate test result.

The state is in the process of hiring two entomologists, she said. One hiring is imminent, and candidates are being interviewed for the second position. In addition, the new state budget includes almost $500,000 to help counties with vector control and surveillance, she said.

“It doesn’t take a huge amount of money for what we’re focused on with these container breeders because you don’t just go out with a spray truck and carpet spray everything,” she said. “Education is really important and targeted spraying if you know there is transmission.”

In addition, North Carolina hasn’t surveyed mosquitoes for type since 1994 so state public health officials are working with North Carolina State University, East Carolina University and Western Carolina University on such a survey. The results should be available in a couple of months, Davies said.

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Martha Waggoner can be reached at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc. Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/martha-waggoner

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