As the warm summer season approaches, the possibility of a Zika outbreak in the United States looms large. The greatest concern is for women of childbearing age, as studies continue to link exposure to the virus in pregnancy to serious birth defects like microcephaly, hearing loss and blindness.
Esper Kallas, M.D., Ph.D., an infectious diseases specialist and professor of Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil will speak about Zika virus on Monday, May 9 at 7:30 pm in the Eisenhart Auditorium at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. The event is free and open to the public. Kallas will be joined by a panel of experts from the University of Rochester Medical Center:
- John J. Treanor, M.D., chief of the Infectious Diseases Division, UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital
- Eva K. Pressman, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital
- Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., vice dean for research and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Kallas, who trained with infectious disease experts at the University of Rochester Medical Center from 1996 to 1998, has watched the outbreak unfold in Brazil. He treats patients exposed to the virus and is conducting research to determine how often Zika infection in pregnancy leads to birth defects. Kallas will give a brief talk on his experience at the epicenter of the outbreak and then the panel will take questions from the audience.
Currently, all cases of Zika virus in the U.S. are travel-associated, and Treanor believes that the risk of local transmission of the virus is low. But, he cautions that Zika is an important public health problem that everyone should be concerned about.
Pressman advises women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant to follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including avoiding travel to areas with Zika. If a woman must travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission, she should talk to her health care provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
If you have questions about the event, please call 585-275-8762.