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Zika expert to present President’s Lecture October 10

ISSUED: 22 September 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The Zika virus will be the focus of a special President’s Lecture Series talk at Shepherd University on Monday, October 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the Erma Ora Byrd Hall auditorium. Dr. Roberta Lynn DeBiasi, chief of the Division of Pediatric Diseases at Children’s National Health System (CNHS) in Washington, D.C., will present “Zika on Our Doorstep: Key Information for the Community.”

“I am looking forward to giving the President’s Lecture at Shepherd University,” DeBiasi said. “I enjoy educating the public about the current situation. We have directly evaluated more than 30 women and infants for Zika in the preceding months. It’s important to get the message out widely and clearly to all that it is not just a distant problem.”

DeBiasi will give a lecture designed to inform the average person about the scope of the Zika virus outbreak and its impact on the United States. She hopes the audience will gain an understanding of how the virus is transmitted, how to recognize the symptoms, and what testing is available. There have been at least 2,000 confirmed cases of Zika in the U.S. in people who have traveled to areas where the virus is prevalent, and DeBiasi said there has been at least one case confirmed in each state.

Zika is particularly dangerous to pregnant women because it can cause microcephaly, a defect that prevents the brains of infected fetuses to grow, making the infant’s head smaller than normal. DeBiasi said her talk will touch on the Children’s National Congenital Zika Program and available resources for referral of infants and pregnant women.

DeBiasi is a professor of pediatrics and microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine, as well as principal investigator in the Center for Translational Science at Children’s Research Institute. She treats normal and immunocompromised children who are hospitalized with severe infections at Children’s National Medical Center.

DeBiasi chairs the CNHS Ebola and Emerging Infections Task Force and co-leads the CNHS Congenital Zika Program, interfacing with regional, national, and international authorities. She evaluates and manages infants and pregnant women with Zika exposure and infection and is performing Zika-focused research in South America.

DeBiasi has written more than 70 original research and review articles and book chapters. She is also actively engaged in continuing medical education for community physicians and community members through in-person lectures, appearances on networks like National Public Radio, in local and national newspaper, and on television.

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