DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The CDC says the Zika virus, which may cause serious birth defects, is spreading rapidly in South and Central America.
The virus is spread through mosquitos. Although the virus is spreading in South and Central America, there is concern about it coming to the United States.
An infectious disease specialist with Duke University says the virus doesn’t pose a threat to the U.S. right now.
Although there have been a handful of people in U.S. who have tested positive for the virus, doctors say it’s only a concern for pregnant women. Those in the U.S. who have the virus have not currently experienced birth defects or other symptoms.
Doctors say 80 percent of people who get the Zika virus have no symptoms. Doctors also say for most people infected, it’s not a big deal and that’s why the virus has remained under the radar for so long.
Recently, there has been a link between the virus and serious birth defects, which is why the CDC has imposed travel restriction for pregnant women.
“What we’ve noticed though is now that cases have increased in South America and Central America, there has been an increase in an association with an uncommon birth defect called microcephaly,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, infectious disease specialist at Duke University Medical Center.
Microcephaly is when a newborn is born with a small head.
But doctors say they are still learning about the virus and its impact on mothers and unborn children.
“If you are sitting here in North Carolina this is not something that should impact you at all,” said Wolfe. “However, if you do have travel plans, particularly if you are a pregnant woman, if you plan to travel anywhere in the Caribbean, Central, South America, this is something you should discuss with your clinician,” Wolfe added.
Wolfe says if you haven’t traveled outside of the U.S. over the past few months, you should have zero worry about contracting the Zika virus.
Doctors say you have to be bit by an infected mosquito to contract the virus.