NC scientists scramble to create vaccine for chikungunya


RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina scientists are scrambling to create a vaccine for a mosquito-borne virus spreading across the Carolinas.

The Federal Drug Administration, N.C. State and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center are working with the Raleigh Lab Arbovax to stem the spread of the chikungunya virus.

Scientists call their efforts promising and said a vaccine could be available as soon as next year.

Until a vaccine is ready, the Triangle Lab techs want people to wear protective clothing and repellant to avoid getting bitten.

South Carolina has reported one case of the virus in the Upstate.

There are seven reported cases in North Carolina in Alamance, Buncombe and Forsyth counties each reported one case.

But the Center of Disease Control has not announced where the others were.

Those people did not get bitten by infected mosquitoes in the U.S., but brought the virus back from other countries.

ABC News health expert Dr. Richard Besser talked with about the chikungunya virus.

Besser said the biggest concern is the virus will be found in mosquitoes in the U.S. and not just through traveling.

There is no medicine for the virus and the mosquitoes bite during the day.

Besser said people need to use mosquito repellent and sunscreen when heading to the beach.

Watch Besser's interview here.