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Infectious diseases that concern doctors in the East

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

Infectious diseases are one of the things that challenge doctors around the world.

Although a lot of attention is being paid to Ebola, doctors say people really shouldn't worry about that here. But there are diseases that are of concern.

Dr. Keith Ramsey is an ECU professor and medical director of infection control for Vidant. He says the MERS Coronavirus, Chikungunya virus and Malaria are of particular concern. He says Chikungunya virus may be the most dangerous right now.

"That particular virus may very well end up spreading here very much like West Nile virus has," Dr. Ramsey said.

Stephanie Richards is an assistant professor at ECU studying why some mosquitos seem to carry viruses better than others.

"In recent months it has been raining a lot in Eastern North Carolina and we have seen our aedes albopictus populations, and other mosquito populations begin to increase in abundance, so this is causing concern," Richards said.

ECU is one institution researching cures for various diseases, including the HTLV virus related to AIDS, the Pox virus related to Smallpox's, and Kaposi's Sarcoma, which is a form of cancer.

Jeff Smith is one researcher at ECU and says this type of work is a collaboration worldwide with different people sharing what they've found.

Smith says since there aren't many new organisms in the world, they can use ones they already know to help them create cures for diseases that haven't impacted humans yet.

"We develop these model systems so that if something does pop up that really is infectious to humans we are ready for it," Smith said.

To keep updated with the latest Chikungunya numbers, click here.

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