Colorado State holds panel on Ebola

Hannah Ditzenberger

Dr. Thaddeus Suseri, and other professors, talks about ebola in the media at the Grey Rock Room of the Lory Student Center Thurday night at the Ebola in Context panel. (Photo credit: Abbie Parr)
Dr. Thaddeus Sunseri, and other professors, talks about ebola in the media at the Grey Rock Room of the Lory Student Center Thurday night at the Ebola in Context panel. (Photo credit: Abbie Parr)

Seven Colorado State University faculty members discussed the Ebola virus as it pertains to their particular fields on Friday in the Lory Student Center.

The panel, sponsored by CSU One Health Club, CSU Wildlife Disease Association, Sustainable African Ecosystems and Societies under Global Change and the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, featured Charles Calisher, Richard Bowen, Tony Schountz, Brian Foy, Rick Lyons, Thaddeus Sunseri and Dennis Pierro. 

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Thaddeus Sunseri,  a history professor at CSU, explained the sociology and history of West Africa, where the Ebola virus is most prominent. According to Sunseri, this area values community and trade. Individuals here migrate frequently, making it difficult to mitigate the spread of Ebola.

“Obviously when there’s an outbreak in the area, a trade zone like this will facilitate the spread of the disease,” Sunseri said. “These are among the poorest countries in the world.”

Brain Foy, who has visited West Africa and is a professor for the department of microbiology, immunology and pathology, reiterated Sunseri’s explanations of the culture.

“People can’t isolate themselves,” Foy said. “You have to go to work everyday to just get your food … so there’s constant interaction as a result of that basic need.”

Biomedical sciences professor Richard Bowen explained the parthenogenesis of the disease, saying that Ebola is transmitted through blood, saliva, tears, sweat and other bodily fluids. Tony Schountz, a member of the department of microbiology, immunology and pathology, explained how the Egyptian fruit bat is the most likely source of Ebola.

“Other bats could also be reservoirs,” Schountz said. “But only the Egyptian fruit bat can be tested.”

Rick Lyons, director of the Infectious Disease Research Center at CSU, discussed the United States’ response to Ebola in terms of health care, arguing for a quarantine on those who have been exposed to the disease.

“Because it’s so personal, people don’t think very rationally about health care,” Lyons said. “Americans tend to think about individual rights over community rights … This me-first mentality has to be balanced by the communal good.”

Dennis Pierro, director of the Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing & Academic Resource Center, said that CSU has been given a grant from the Department of Defense to manufacture two vaccines against Ebola and one against the Marburg virus.

Charles Calisher, a member of the Center of Infection and Immunity, explained how the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization are combating the disease.

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According to Calisher, the CDC has a yearly budget of $12 billion per year and the WHO has a budget of$ $4 billion per year. He compared this to the $56 billion Americans spend every year on their pets.

“It’s impossible for any organization to know exactly what to do in an epidemic situation,” Calisher said. “There are variations of infections agents, of religion and geography and of differences of cultures and politics and of modality of treatment.”

Collegian Diversity Beat Reporter Hannah Ditzenberger can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter at @h_ditzenberger.