Health Dept. Testing NC and SC Patients for Zika Virus

CHARLOTTE, NC — Health officials confirmed Tuesday that they are testing patients in North and South Carolina for the Zika virus.

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak an international emergency.

Now there’s a warning for local travelers planning trips to Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

State Health Officials Urge Awareness of Zika Virus, Travel Recommendations

Despite travel warnings, local health department doctors still expect cases of the Zika virus in the Carolinas.

“We expect we will have confirmed cases in travelers here,” said NC Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Zack Moore.

It spreads through misquotes and could be responsible for serious birth defects.

Health departments here are testing patients to get ahead of the Zika virus.

Dr. Moore says the number of patients that have come forward with symptoms is not available yet.

In South Carolina, labs are testing three patients.

“It’s recommended that they avoid mosquitos for that first week,” said SC Department of Health and Environmental Control Dr. Teresa Foo. “That’s just to help prevent the spread of Zika virus to mosquitoes.”

Dr. Foo says the mosquitoes that can spread Zika do live in South Carolina and pockets of North Carolina.

Only one in five people infected show symptoms. They include red eyes, rashes, fever and body aches.

At the same time the illness plagues countries in Central and South America, officials are seeing an alarming increase in the number of children born with abnormally small heads.

WHO is working to find out if the virus is connected to the life-threatening brain defects in newborns.

The Center for Disease Control is telling pregnant women, and women trying to get pregnant, not to travel to areas where Zika is spreading.

“If you’re traveling to one of the areas where there’s ongoing transmission, make sure to wear an approved insect repellent like DEET and try to stay covered as much as possible,” said Dr. Moore.

If you have been to countries where the virus is rampant and are pregnant, contact your doctor for testing.

There have been no confirmed cases in the Carolinas yet.

You should get tested if you develop any of the symptoms within two weeks of travel to Central America, South America or the Caribbean.