Ohio now has several reported cases of Zika virus, including one in Licking County. Dealing with global diseases like Zika is the topic of a conference that will be held at Central Ohio Technical College early next month.

“Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Most cases are mild, however there is concern for pregnant women following reports in Brazil of microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant,” said Licking County Health Commissioner Joe Ebel. Ebel will be a panelist at the global disease conference at COTC.

The conference called Clinical Updates: A Community Perspective on Global Diseases is being hosted by the Ohio Chapter for the National Association of Associate Degree Nursing (OOADN) ), in partnership with COTC’s Workforce Development Innovation Center (WDIC) and COTC’s Health Sciences and Nursing divisions.

The conference is scheduled for Friday, March 4 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be held in the John Gilbert Reese Center on the campus of COTC and The Ohio State University at Newark. The conference is open to nurse educators, nursing students, nurses and/or physicians and EMS personnel, or others interested in this topic. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) will be offered for attending the conference. Ebel said that it’s important for nursing professionals and nursing students to learn about the Zika virus and its dangers, as well as other global diseases.

“With the recent outbreaks, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase. These imported cases could result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States. Aedes albopictus, one of the vector mosquitoes that can spread the Zika virus, is fairly common in this part of Ohio,” said Ebel. “There are challenges when combatting the spread of disease and vectors that are often introduced through international travel or shipping. These invasive species can expand their range quickly and in a population with no immunity, a newly introduced virus can spread easily.”

The one-day conference will also provide an overview of communicable diseases in both the adult and pediatric populations. Community response to global and regional disease will also be discussed. The event will conclude with a session on surveillance and emerging diseases/pathogens that pose a threat to the public’s health today and in the future.

Registration is required. The fee is $90.00 and includes breakfast, lunch, refreshment breaks and learning materials. Students attend for free thanks to OOADN. To register contact WDIC Manager Vicki Maple at 740.364.9565 or [email protected]. The registration deadline is February 24.

Staff report