Zika Experts

Researchers at UNC School of Medicine and UNC Hospitals are leading the charge in Zika research with more than 10 groups currently studying Zika – its transmission, its epidemiology and its associated neurological and birth defects, including microcephaly.

In February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika an international public health emergency. Since that time, Zika has been identified in more than 60 countries and territories, including the United States. Most Zika cases worldwide have been transmitted by mosquitoes, including local transmissions reported in Texas and Florida, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, 5,238 Zika cases have been reported in the U.S. between January 2015 and April 2017.

Most U.S. cases involve people who contracted Zika outside the United States, or the virus was transmitted sexually or from mother to infant. An estimated 80 percent of people who have contracted Zika are asymptomatic. Several lab tests are in development, including here at UNC. UNC School of Medicine has more than 10 groups of researchers who are dedicated to researching Zika, and, ultimately, working to develop accurate diagnostics and a vaccine.

A group of UNC researchers are dedicated to studying the neurological effects in adults, as well as associated birth defects, including microcephaly – a rare neurological condition in which an infant is born with a much smaller head, which is due to abnormal brain development.

Media who wish to speak to a Zika expert should contact Jamie Williams at jamie.williams@unchealth.unc.edu or (984) 974-1149, or call the newsroom at (984) 974-1140. Leave a voicemail with your request and your deadline and a member of the news team will be paged.