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Symposium focuses on malaria fight

By Dave Jones on April 20, 2007 in University

Malaria was eradicated in the United States in the early 1950s, but UC Davis researchers and others in this country remain committed to wiping out the disease elsewhere in the world.

To further the cause, UC Davis' Center for Vectorborne Diseases has organized a campus symposium for April 25 -- designated global Malaria Awareness Day. The symposium's purpose is to "educate the campus community and general public about one of the world's oldest and deadliest diseases," said Gregory Lanzaro, a medical entomologist and director of the Center for Vectorborne Diseases.

The center includes researchers from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Medicine.

Though the mosquito-borne disease has been eliminated in many parts of Asia, Europe and the Americas, it is raging uncontrolled in sub-Saharan Africa, according to Lanzaro. "It kills a child in Africa every 30 seconds," he said.

He said he attributes the spike to more efficient mosquito vectors, increased pesticide and drug resistance, and socioeconomic factors, including struggling health systems.

"Worldwide, malaria causes some 350 to 500 million illnesses annually, and more than 1 million die," said Lanzaro, who attended last December's White House Summit on Malaria. "Malaria is particularly devastating in Africa. Most susceptible are children under 5 and pregnant women."

The symposium is scheduled from noon to 2:30 p.m. in the Main Theatre, and is free and open to the public. Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef is due to make introductory remarks, focusing on UC Davis' commitment to global health.

The program lists seven speakers who will talk about research and what the general public can do to help.

  • Lanzaro -- Malaria Research and Training Opportunities at UC Davis.
  • Shirley Luckhart, Medical Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Medicine -- What is Malaria? Malaria in Africa.
  • Carol Medlin, UC San Francisco School of Medicine's Institute for Global Health -- Socio-Economic Impact of Malaria in Africa.
  • Robert Washino, UC Davis Department of Entomology -- History of Malaria in California.
  • Anthony Cornel, UC Davis Department of Entomology -- Current Novel Malaria Control Strategies.
  • Steve Mulligan, manager, Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District, Selma, and member of the UC Malaria Research and Control Group -- UC Partnership with California Mosquito Control Programs.
  • Marc Schenker, director, Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, UC Davis, and professor of public health sciences, UC Davis School of Medicine -- Global Health in the Context of New Public Health Programs at UC Davis.

The program also includes a video presentation, The Gift of Growing Up, from the White House Summit on Malaria.

More information on the symposium is available online: www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/cvec (look under the "News" section).

Kathy Keatley Garvey is a communicator for the UC Statewide Mosquito Research Program.

LEARN MORE, HELP THE CAUSE

Besides hosting a symposium, the Center for Vectorborne Diseases plans to run an information booth from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 25 at the Davis Farmers Market in Central Park, Third and C streets.

On April 27, the university’s Entomology Graduate Student Association plans an information campaign from 5 to 6 p.m. on the Quad. The student group announced that the event will feature traditional African drumming by the Davis-based group Faso Baara.

Organizers said visitors to either event will be able to see bednets that can protect people from mosquitoes that carry malaria. Donations will be taken to buy bednets for African families, at $10 per bednet.

Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556, dljones@ucdavis.edu

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