Sheena Patel, an epidemiologist from the Riverside County Office of Public Health, spoke on the Zika virus epidemic at the Hot Spot lecture of the Wednesday.
Patel studies the patterns, causes and the effects of diseases in large populations.
“There is a lot of misinformation and I thought it was good just for us to get some clarity as a community,” said Gitty Amini, associate professor of political science and international studies institute director.
The Zika virus is transmitted mainly by mosquito bites, but can also be sexually transmitted.
Pregnant women who are infected with the virus can have children born with a birth defect called microcephaly which causes a baby’s head to be significantly smaller than normal.
Because the Aedes mosquito species that carries the virus can be found in Southern California, Zika is a local concern.
“The main goal is to just focus on prevention because there is no cure yet,” Patel said.
Eliminating standing water will help prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. Patel said to frequently change dog bowls and make sure pool filters are run weekly.
The Zika virus can last in the bloodstream for seven days, but symptoms may not show for three to seven days.
“I was happy to hear the hysteria in the media is not really warranted,” junior political science major Joanna Mrsich said.
Patel recommends researching the virus through the Centers for Disease Control where more detailed information can be found.
Zachary Rodriguez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.