Miller School Public Health Experts Conduct Zika Virus Seminar in Ecuador

Two faculty members from the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences conducted a Zika virus seminar and training workshop on February 17 at Catolica University in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

John Beier, Sc.D., professor of public health sciences and Director of the Division of Environment and Public Health, and Whitney A. Qualls, Ph.D., senior research associate, spoke to an audience of 70 attendees — mostly faculty and students from the university, and staff from the Ministry of Health. The audience was extremely attentive, as the Zika virus has just appeared in Ecuador in the past two months, and it is spreading rapidly.

The presentation given by Beier and Qualls builds on their past experience studying dengue and chikungunya. With the appearance of Zika virus, there is now a common mosquito vector that transmits all three of the dangerous arboviruses.

“We traveled to Guayaquil for our on-going dengue project, and while we were there, we wanted to address the new challenge of Zika virus,” said Beier. “We have a strong team working on the dengue project, so we know the collaborators very well.”

Several local and national television networks covered the event in an effort to educate the public about the dangers Zika infections pose to newborns, how people can avoid being bitten by mosquitos and the steps being taken to deal with the public health emergency posed by Zika in Ecuador.

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