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,” Adams said. “Especially if the mosquitos are carrying the virus. I just want to prevent (getting infected).”
Representatives from University and state departments camped out in booths outside of the Union to spread information and pass out fliers and bug repellent to attendees.
“I would suggest students traveling abroad, especially to areas with active Zika, dengue and yellow fever stop by the travel clinic at Campus Health,” Chris Goodman, travel clinic coordinator, said.
David Stamilio, a professor from the department of obstetrics and gynecology, warned attendees of the threat Zika poses for pregnant women as the disease can cause birth defects in children.
“It’s important as well to use protection with any partners who may have come in contact with the virus as it can be transmitted sexually,” Stamilio said.
“We’re encouraging everyone on campus to report standing water,” Frank Stillo, an environmental specialist with the Office of Environment, Health and Safety, said.
Stillo emphasized any kind of container where water can collect, from potholes to bottle caps, can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos.
Guest speakers then took the stage to share information pertaining to risk factors of the virus, how to prevent the transmission 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.
“We are studying how Zika can cause birth defects through placental transmission along with how it is sexually transmitted,” de Silva said.
“As an educational moment, this is fascinating,” Folt said.
Colleen Bridger, the Public Health Director for Orange County, said 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 to avoid mosquitos if you have had Zika.
Some ways one can prevent being bitten, Bridger said, are to wear pants and long-sleeved shirts, use bug spray with DEET and put screens on doors and windows.
“It is important not to panic,” de Silva said. “You need to put your risk in perspective.”