Tuesday, November 11, 2008

UGA Symposium Covers Outbreaks and How to Prepare November 21

Deadly disease outbreaks that could threaten public safety and how the university and the government are preparing to handle them will be the topics of a campus symposium, “Diseases—What’s next… How are we preparing?” on Friday, Nov. 21, 8:30 a.m.– noon in rooms K-L of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel. The symposium brings together UGA professors and a public health professional to discuss biological outbreaks, zoonotic diseases and threat responses. It is free and open to the public.

This forum is a way to educate the public about what threats are out there and inform people about the best practices they can use to protect themselves and their families,” said John Newton, event organizer and an emergency operations coordinator in the UGA Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness.

The forum features three prominent experts in the fields of life sciences and public health: Corrie Brown, pathology professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine; Chris Whalen, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the College of Public Health; and Dr. Stan Edwards, from the Georgia Division of Public Health and recently retired emergency coordinator with Gwinnett County.

“Seventy-five percent of all emerging diseases come from animals—think SARS, bird flu, West Nile virus. Hey, it’s time to think one medicine,” said Brown. “There is always the possibility of a terrorist introducing a new disease, but I think Mother Nature is probably the most dependable terrorist—she is always coming up with new diseases,” added Brown. “It’s not a question of if, but when.”

“I will be presenting some basic information about how epidemics develop and spread. From our understanding of the spread of an infectious disease we can devise interventions to limit, or better to prevent, the spread of infection,” said Whalen. “I will provide a framework for thinking about these questions.”

Edwards will discuss the public health response to disease outbreaks and what individuals can do to protect themselves when outbreaks occur.

The forum, part of the Academic-Professional Security Series, is sponsored by the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Center for International Trade and Security.

For more information, see www.osep.uga.edu.

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