Zika is an emerging, mosquito-borne infection primarily in Central and South America, although the first travel-associated case of the virus was identified in North Carolina last month. Many pregnant women in countries where Zika is endemic have given birth to babies with microcephaly, or small heads. A link between microcephaly and Zika is still being explored.
“Although Zika virus isn’t new, it has been obscure until quite recently so there’s a lot we have to learn about this virus,” said Helen Lazear, PhD, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at UNC. “Researchers at UNC are making important contributions to understanding how Zika virus replicates and causes disease; we are developing new tools for diagnosing and treating Zika virus infection; and we are working with partners in Latin America to study the epidemic as it unfolds.”
In addition to Lazear, David Weber, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases; Aravinda de Silva, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; and Matthew Collins, MD, PhD, Infectious Diseases Fellow, will present. The multidisciplinary team will discuss the emergence of the Zika outbreak in the western hemisphere, diagnostic testing, medical complications, and the likelihood of the virus to become a major health problem in the United States.