Touro University hosts 10th annual Global Health symposium

Students and faculty learn about Ebola

By John Glidden
jglidden@timesheraldonline.com @glid24 on Twitter
Posted:   11/07/2014 07:54:33 PM PST

Bela Matyas was succinct with his words Friday afternoon while addressing students and faculty members at Touro University California.

"We can't ignore what is happening in the other parts of the world," he said.

Matyas, a health officer and deputy director of the Solano County Health Department, was one of the guest speakers during TUC's 10th annual Global Health Program symposium.

The goal of the symposium is to inform TUC's health students and faculty about the changing arena of medicine and the role of physicians in the world.

"The (2014) Ebola outbreak reminds us that the world we live in is small," Matyas said to over 100 guests at the symposium.

Matyas spoke about the need for American physicians to learn about all diseases, even if they have been eradicated inside the United States, because the diseases can still be prevalent in other parts of the world.

Jason Wilken, from the Center for Disease Control, also spoke during the program about the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

"This is the largest Ebola outbreak in history," Wilken said to those assembled.

Wilken outlined what students might face if they should encounter patients infected with Ebola, stressing that Ebola has a 21-day incubation period, that there are five different strands of the disease and that historically, the death rate for Ebola ranges from 50 to 90 percent.

"Ebola patients are not contagious until they are systematic," he said, while many in attendance scribbled notes. "Mosquitos or other insects cannot transmit Ebola and it is not believed that pets, like cats and dogs, are at a significant risk (of catching or transmitting Ebola)."

Wilken also addressed the economic and health systems in the West African countries hit hard by the outbreak. He explained that the poor conditions of these countries usually makes it quite difficult to quell an outbreak.

Wilken did have a message for students who might travel to a country experiencing an Ebola outbreak and return to the United States experiencing systems.

"Contact a medical provider before going to their office or the emergency room," he said as many in the audience chuckled. "They would greatly appreciate contact before you show up."

Friday's symposium was part of the Global Health Program, which has allowed 600 students in the program to travel abroad, including Tanzania, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Cambodia, China, Taiwan and Mexico, to gain hands-on experience, develop an understanding to global health challenges and respond to health inequalities, according to a TUC press release.

"Our 10th anniversary is a milestone for the university, and a great way to celebrate the innovative approaches we've taken overseas to close the gap between knowledge and action," said Dr. Eiman Mahmoud, professor and Global Health Director, in the same release. "We do this through an integrated curriculum of research apprenticeships, elective rotations, summer externships, and clinical and global health field study."

Contact John Glidden 707-553-6832.

Jason Wilken CDC

(Chris Riley/Times-Herald) Jason Wilken with the Center for Disease Control talks about the 2014 Ebola outbreak during the 10th annual Global Health Program symposium at Touro University on Friday in Vallejo.