Southern Miss Nursing Hosts District Health Officer to Discuss Zika Virus

Southern Miss Nursing Hosts District Health Officer to Discuss Zika Virus

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The following is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi

Mississippi District Health Officer Dr. Christy Sones Thornton will discuss all aspects of the Zika virus as a guest speaker at The University of Southern Mississippi's Hattiesburg campus on Monday, March 7.

The discussion, set for 6 p.m. at Scianna Hall, is sponsored by Gamma Lambda, the College of Nursing's chapter of the international honor society Sigma Theta Tau. Sones, who serves as district health officer for Districts 7 & 8 in Mississippi, will discuss the history, transmission, and care of the patient with Zika virus.

"Having Dr. Thornton speak with our faculty and students regarding Zika virus is especially timely since in February of this year the World Health Organization declared that the Zika virus was a public health emergency of international concern," said Dr. Elizabeth Tinnon, assistant professor in the Southern Miss College of Nursing. "This is a unique opportunity for our students to listen and to interact with a prominent state health official about the health risks posed by this virus."

The Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus and has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had the virus while pregnant. It is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes, causing mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis.

Tinnon notes that Thornton's presentation will include new information regarding how the virus is spread. Originally thought to be transmitted solely through bites from an Aedes mosquito, studies have since shown that the virus can be transmitted through sexual contact.

"This new development will bring about changes in preventive and post-infection care," said Tinnon. "The information is so new that it is not in our current nursing texts and has only been available in the nursing journals since February."

Currently, there is no cure for Zika virus disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.