Folt holds panel on Zika virus

Chancellor Folt hosted an event on Zika virus awareness Thursday. 

The event included informational booths, guest speakers and a Q&A with the speakers.

“We want to give people as much information as possible to help them protect themselves and the community,” Folt said.

Among those in attendance were researchers, professors, UNC employees, members of the Chapel Hill community and students.

Junior Barbie Adams decided to attend as a precautionary measure before her trip to Jamaica, a country affected by the virus. 

“I know I’m always getting bit here so I can only imagine what will happen when I go over there," Adam said. "Especially if the mosquitos are carrying the virus, I just want to prevent (getting infected)."

Representatives from various university and state departments camped out in booths outside of the Union to spread information and pass out fliers and bug repellent to attendees.

Chris Goodman, travel clinic coordinator for Campus Health, suggested to those traveling abroad, especially to areas with active Zika transmission, to stop by the clinic for more information about how to stay healthy during their travels. 

David Stamilio, a professor from the department of obstetrics and gynecology, warned of the threat Zika poses for pregnant women and how to prevent the sexual transmission of the virus. 

Frank Stillo, an environmental specialist with the Office of Environment, Health and Safety, urged students and university employees to report standing water to prevent mosquitos. Stillo also told attendees how to control mosquitos

Guest speakers then took the stage to share information about risk factors, how to prevent the virus and what research UNC is doing on the virus.

Aravinda de Silva, a researcher from the UNC School of Medicine, said the school is currently involved in research focusing on the virus and other associated viruses, such as yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis. 

“As an educational moment, this is fascinating,” Folt said.

Colleen Bridger, the Public Health Director for Orange County, reported the best ways to prevent Zika are to avoid areas where Zika is active, avoid unprotected sex with men who have traveled to areas known to have Zika, avoid mosquito bites, mosquito-proof your home and garden and to avoid mosquitos if you have had Zika. 

“It is important not to panic," de Silva said. "You need to put your risk in perspective.”

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