UNC holds forum on Zika virus

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – UNC researchers are working feverishly to gain more knowledge about the spread of the Zika virus.

In the meantime, school officials are trying to educate everyone they can about it.

They held an event in Chapel Hill where dozens got a lesson from those well-versed on the virus.

“In any public health emergency, you need to have people prepared,” said Mary Beth Koza, UNC Chapel Hill director of Environment Health and Safety.

The quick emergence and spread of Zika has caught the attention of researchers and scientists at UNC.

But, it’s the virus’ unique characteristics that are causing such a commotion.

“That it can actually cross the placenta, that’s unprecedented for these mosquito-borne viruses, and Zika really seems to do this quite frequently,” said Dr. Aravinda de Silva with UNC School of Medicine.

Speakers discussed ways to prevent the spread of Zika, like getting rid of standing water that mosquitoes are drawn to.

“Once a week, going through your yard and dumping out standing water in flower pots, bird baths and toys,” said Dr. Colleen Bridger, Orange County Health Director.

The information was a big help to attendees like Rosa McDonald, who’s planning a trip to Zika-affected Jamaica later this year.

“I just had questions and want to find out more information about that before making the decision to go or not,” said McDonald.

Before attending the information fair McDonald was thinking of cancelling the trip. But now armed with more information, she’s reconsidering.

“It definitely gave me some relief as far as making the decision to go, and what to do and care if I am bitten by a mosquito and contract the virus,” said McDonald.

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