The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is hiring two medical entomologists to study two types of mosquitoes in the state that may be capable of transmitting the Zika virus, the News & Observer reported.
It’s unclear whether the virus will ever make it to North Carolina but state officials said they want to address public concerns and be ready if mosquitoes in the United States begin to transmit the virus. The hiring would also address issues created when the state eliminated a Public Health Pest Management program a few years ago.
Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits the disease, was once found in the state before it was displaced by the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. Both mosquitoes also transmit other diseases.
The entomologists are to work with state universities to map where the two species of mosquitoes are found, but the mosquitoes will not be tested for Zika. The virus, which hasn’t been found in this country, has been seen in Mexico and countries in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Zika infections, however, have been reported in 25 states, including North Carolina. Those cases involved people who contracted the virus in other countries.