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Headliners: November Edition

Ebola: Rethinking Global Emergency Response


Who: Dr. Jeff Bender, professor, College of Veterinary Medicine and School of Public Health, University of Minnesota; co-director, Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center

When: Thursday, November 6, 7 p.m.

WhereContinuing Education and Conference Center, St. Paul campus, University of Minnesota

: $15 



EbolaCycle_305x230In “The Animal Connection,” an August 31, 2006 Discover feature story, author Richard Broderick relates how University experts have long stressed the importance of the animal-human disease connection. That is, they continually look to the world's animal health as a critical barometer of human health. Writes Broderick: “… we confront a public health threat so potentially catastrophic that it has refocused our collective minds on what was, until recently, a medical backwater—zoonotic infectious diseases. In other words, diseases humans can catch from animals.

"When we ask ourselves why we are seeing the emergence of so many zoonotic diseases, we can see there are a number of factors," explains Dr. Jeffrey Bender, who teaches classes on zoonotic disease both in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Public Health. "There are ecological factors and changes, like deforestation and also reforestation …There's the trade in exotic animals, global travel, and even changes in modern agricultural practices such as the use of meat and bonemeal as a cheap source of food for cattle...”

Keep in mind, “The Animal Connection” was written eight years ago. Enter Ebola 2014. With 4033 deaths and 8399 probable or suspected cases in seven countries to date, the World Health Organization reports it is the deadliest Ebola outbreak the world has seen, and Dr. Bender’s research remains front and center. 
As a former infectious disease epidemiologist for the Minnesota Department of Health; principal investigator for a CDC-funded project on zoonotic influenza infections; and co-director for human-animal interfaced studies at the Minnesota Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance, Dr. Bender knows a thing or two about Ebola. 

For one, he asserts that the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa illustrates the challenges of controlling emergent diseases in resource-poor settings. This includes the need for a trained workforce; supplies for infection control and prevention; and infrastructure coordination for the care of the ill, dying, and deceased. In addition, there is a need for bedside diagnostic tests and effective preventatives and treatments. Yet, Bender cautions, this would only address direct medical needs and not the unanticipated societal costs, of which there are many.

Some of these reflect our limited understanding of the anthropologic and social structures of West African society. This current outbreak is impacting local economies, food production, and country stability in West Africa. 

Join us November 6, when Dr. Bender will lead the conversation about how to rethink the global response to Ebola and in so doing, provide effective support for future disease control efforts and interventions.

Dr. Jeff Bender, M.S., D.V.M., University of Minnesota, is a professor in the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and School of Public Health. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, he worked previously as an infectious disease epidemiologist for the Minnesota Department of Health where he was the principal investigator for a Centers for Disease Control-funded project on zoonotic influenza infections, and served as a co-director for human-animal interfaced studies at the National Institutes of Health-funded Minnesota Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance. Bender is currently co-director of The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-funded Center, the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, which supports the health and safety of agriculture workers and farm families. He also serves on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Science Advisory Board. Dr. Bender’s primary teaching and research interests include emerging zoonotic diseases, disease surveillance, food safety, and antimicrobial resistance. His work has resulted in early detection and improved management of emergent zoonotic diseases, as well as the prevention of epidemics and wide-scale outbreaks of food borne illnesses.         

Expert discussions on timely topics.
Hear it here, as it happens.

Headliners, the University of Minnesota's popular current events series, is your chance to meet, once a month, with University and community experts as they share firsthand knowledge of today's newsworthy topics. From medical breakthroughs and culture clashes to social trends and foreign affairs, you'll discuss what's making the headlines.

Join us, for the 2014–15 season, from October through May (no event in January) to dive into timely topics and ask questions in a moderated Q&A. 

Dates: October 9, November 6, December 4, February 5, March 5, April 2, May 7
Time: 7 p.m.
WhereContinuing Education and Conference Center, St. Paul campus
Cost: $15     

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