Faculty panel to discuss Zika virus during public presentation

Contact: Cara Barnes

KALAMAZOO, Mich.--A team of faculty experts will discuss the Zika virus during a panel discussion Wednesday, Feb. 17, at Western Michigan University.

The program, "Zika Virus: A Discussion on the Current Outbreak," is set for noon in 106 Bernhard Center. It is free and open to the public. Those attending are welcome to bring their lunch.

Members of the panel will be Dr. Kieran Fogarty, professor of interdisciplinary health sciences; Dr. Karim Essani, professor of biological sciences; and Dr. Stephen Cameron, instructor of geography.

WMU's Haenicke Institute for Global Education is hosting the discussion to shed light on what the Zika virus is, what countries are affected, whether the virus can spread to the United States and what the global implications of the current outbreak are.

About the virus

Zika is spread primarily through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organization, it is being transmitted in 33 countries that have about 600 million inhabitants. In the United States as of Feb 10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported no locally acquired cases of Zika virus disease and only 52 travel-associated cases.

According to the CDC, the illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don't get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. However, there have been reports of a serious birth defect and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

For more information about the panel discussion, call WMU's Haenicke Institute at (269) 387-5890. Detailed information about the Zika virus and Zika disease is available from the CDC at cdc.gov/zika.

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