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The-Laboratory-Report_Fall-2014

THE LABORATORY REPORT Fall 2014 Page 6 Dr. David Morens Presents a Special Seminar on Emerging Infectious Threats The Department of Pathology and Genomic Medicine hosted a special seminar presented by Dr. David Morens, Senior Adviser to the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health on September 22, 2014. Dr. Morens’ talk, titled “Chikungunya, Ebola, and Other Emerging Threats: Emergence and Pathogenesis”, provided an overview of several types of hemorrhagic fevers that pose a significant health threat to the world, with special emphasis on the current Ebola epidemic ravishing West Africa. Viral hemorrhagic fevers are caused by viruses that belong to four distinct families. Of these, dengue virus is the most common cause of infection and death in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Dr. Morens noted that up to 1/3 of the world’s population is at risk of contracting dengue fever. This is especially important as international travel leads to wider dissemination of previously contained, geographically localized infectious diseases. Dr. Morens also discussed the ongoing Ebola epidemic. While previous Ebola outbreaks occurred in rural regions of Africa, most current cases have been diagnosed in urban, highly-populated areas. Since Ebola is transmitted through contact with the infected individual’s body fluids, the population density in the affected regions has contributed to the spread of the disease. Dr. Morens noted that until vaccines and better treatment strategies are developed, disease containment is the best strategy to curb further spread. Finally, he concluded that novel diagnostics, capable of detecting diseases during their incubation periods, are urgently needed. Three days after presenting at Methodist, Dr. Morens was detailed to West Africa to assist with the response to the Ebola outbreak. Prior to accepting his current position at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Morens was Professor of Tropical Medicine at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and Chairman of the Epidemiology Department at the School of Public Health at the University of Hawaii. “It is critically important to develop novel diagnostics to identify biomarkers of incubating infections. Until then, disease containment is our best strategy to curb further infection spread.” - Dr. David Morens Special Seminar Announcement: “Epidemic Ebola Disease in West Africa, 2014: Personal Experience and Observations” The seminar will be presented by George Risi, M.D., M.Sc., on Friday, October 31st, and will be held at 2:00 p.m. in the John F. Bookout Auditorium in the Houston Methodist Research Institute (HMRI R2-306). Dr. Risi is the infectious disease adviser and Director of the Regional Referral Hospital and Patient Isolation Facility at the St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana. The facility was built about 10 years ago to supplement the biosafety level 4 laboratory at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Risi recently returned from spending four weeks with the World Health Organization in Sierra Leone caring for Ebola patients. He then spent time in Havana, Cuba, training about 165 health care workers who were traveling to West Africa to help with the Ebola epidemic.


The-Laboratory-Report_Fall-2014
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