USFSM's Selby Auditorium will host a seminar about Cuba next month.

Bulls Notebook: USFSM, Buchanan to host panel discussion about Zika

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: June 10, 2016

SARASOTA, Fla. (June 10, 2016)USF Sarasota-Manatee is set Monday to host a panel discussion moderated by Congressman Vern Buchanan about the public health threat posed by the Zika virus.

The discussion, free and open to the public, will feature experts in public health, obstetrics, molecular biology, emergency management and mosquito control. The talk is set for 11 a.m. at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Selby Auditorium, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

“I arranged this special meeting to make sure that people in our community have the information they need to minimize their exposure and to highlight what the government is doing about this growing health threat,” Buchanan said. “I want to make sure that my constituents are protected.”

Among the attendees will be Dr. Thomas Unnasch, distinguished USF health professor and chair of USF’s Department of Global Health, and Dr. Washington Hill, who is board certified in maternal-fetal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Hill also serves as a fellow at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Buchanan is expected to moderate the discussion and make opening remarks. The Republican congressman has consistently called for fully funded efforts to eradicate Zika and last month voted against House legislation that he said contained “inadequate” funding to fight the virus.

Instead, he has supported the Obama administration’s call for $1.9 billion in emergency funding and was one of the first in Congress to back using emergency federal funding to fight Zika. The funding would be used to expand education, prevention and mosquito-control programs and improve diagnostics and testing. It would also go toward development of a vaccine and research into the complications of contracting the virus.

As of Thursday, 172 Zika cases had been reported in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health. Across the U.S., there have been 691 travel-related cases of Zika, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The disease is carried by mosquitos but can be spread through sexual activity. The CDC notes that pregnant women are especially at risk. Researchers say 29 percent of pregnant women infected by Zika have suffered fetal abnormalities.

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