Responding to the Zika virus epidemic in Venezuela: scientific insights and lessons learned.

Speaker: Gabriela Blohm

Title: Responding to the Zika virus epidemic in Venezuela: scientific insights and lessons learned

Abstract: Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging mosquito-borne virus (family Flaviviridae) that reached the Americas approximately 1.5 years ago. Clinical symptoms of acute ZIKV infection include fever, conjunctivitis, arthralgias, maculopapular rash and in some cases the development of Guillain Barré syndrome. Infection with ZIKV during pregnancy can alter the neurological and neuromuscular development of the fetus. The epidemic has affected many parts of South America, where access to resources for diagnosis and supportive care are limited. In March 2016, we began tracking the ZIKV epidemic in Venezuela, a country that is highly vulnerable to the virus due to its climate, geographic location and recent economic collapse. Preliminary findings include novel clinical symptoms, insights about the geographic spread of the ZIKV and methods for laboratory diagnosis in resource-limited settings. Primarily, there is evidence to suggest that co-infection with other closely related viruses can exacerbate symptoms. Thus, understanding the ZIKV epidemic in the context of other co-occurring viruses is important for designing future methods for diagnosis and intervention.

Bio: Gabriela Blohm – PhD student in Biology at the University of Florida.

DATE: Friday, 07 October 2016

VENUE: SACEMA Boardroom, 19 Jonkershoek Road, Stellenbosch

TIME: 12h00 – 13h00

Light refreshments are served after the Seminar.

Please RSVP before 10h00 on the 06 October 2016.