by: Joe Bruno Updated:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials are warning about a possible Zika virus outbreak in the U.S.
At a news conference Monday, the deputy director of the CDC said the virus "seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought."
The virus has now been linked to more severe birth defects, including blindness. Doctors also say it can impact women throughout all stages of pregnancy and there are reports of adults suffering from rare neurological disorders.
Currently, there are 346 cases of Zika confirmed in the U.S., and all (infected) people have recently traveled to a Zika-infected country. According to the most recent CDC report, 32 were pregnant women and seven were sexually transmitted.
In North Carolina, there have been eight confirmed cases of the Zika virus.
Gov. Pat McCrory is calling for $750,000 to prevent an outbreak in the state. The governor also announced North Carolina is getting one of the first lab's to study the Zika virus.
Channel 9 spoke with researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Adriano De Bernardi Schneider, a Brazil native, and his adviser, Professor Daniel Janies, are studying the Zika outbreak.
Schneider and Janies are concerned about the impact of the virus on North Carolina.
"We are now transitioning to warmer weather so mosquitoes start to reproduce," Schneider said.
"Everybody should be careful of mosquitoes and do their best to clean up their environments," Janies said.
Schneider was one of three UNC Charlotte researchers to win a Zika innovation contest in Boston this month.
Schneider and his team created the Larvicide Automatic Dispenser and were awarded "Most Implementable Solution" sponsored by the GE Foundation.
The device has the potential to help control mosquito borne diseases, like Zika and reduce health care costs in countries affected by them.
Schneider and his team are working to receive a patent for the device and hope to implement it throughout Brazil to help fight the Zika outbreak.
According to the CDC, 41 countries including Brazil, have an active Zika transmission.
The CDC is warning U.S. travelers to those states to take extra precautions.
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