Campus News

Disease symposium will cover outbreak likelihood, preparation

Deadly disease outbreaks that could threaten public safety and how the university and the government are preparing to handle them will be the topics of a campus symposium Nov. 21.

Open free to the public, ­”Diseases-What’s Next. . . How are We Preparing?” runs from 8:30 a.m.-noon in rooms K-L of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel. The symposium will bring together UGA professors and a public health professional to discuss biological outbreaks, zoonotic diseases and threat responses.

“This forum is a way to educate the public about what threats are out there and inform people about the best practices they can use to protect themselves and their families,” said John Newton, event organizer and an emergency operations coordinator in UGA’s Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness.

The forum features three prominent experts in the fields of life sciences and public health.

“Seventy-five percent of all emerging diseases come from animals-think SARS, bird flu, West Nile virus,” said Corrie Brown, pathology professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “It’s time to think one medicine.”

Brown will speak about which diseases should concern the public, with emphasis on diseases that travel between humans and animals.

“There is always the possibility of a terrorist introducing a new disease, but I think Mother Nature is probably the most dependable terrorist-she is always coming up with new diseases,” Brown said. “It’s not a question of if, but when.”

Chris Whalen, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the College of Public Health, will speak on how diseases spread and ways spreading disease can be prevented.

“I will be presenting some basic information about how epidemics develop and spread. From our understanding of the spread of an infectious disease, we can devise interventions to limit, or better to prevent, the spread of infection,” he said. “I will provide a framework for thinking about these questions.”

Dr. Stan Edwards, from the Georgia Division of Public Health and recently retired emergency coordinator, will discuss the public health response to disease outbreaks and what individuals can do to protect themselves when outbreaks occur.

The forum, part of the Academic-Professional Security Series, is sponsored by the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Center for International Trade and Security.