Popular Science Talk
Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) is a severe, often fatal illness that affects humans and other primates, with a death rate of up to 90%. Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, one in a village near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the other in a remote area of Sudan. The World Health Organisation reports 1,848 cases with 1,013 deaths to date in the current outbreak in West Africa. But what exactly is Ebola, how are people being infected, and what will happen if the outbreak makes its way to South Africa?
Prof Preiser will give a brief history of the Ebola virus, an overview of the current outbreak in West Africa and diagnosis of the disease. Dr Taljaard will follow with a discussion about clinical presentation, medical management and infection control during an outbreak.
Prof Wolfgang Preiser gained extensive experience in state-of-the-art diagnostic testing including molecular methods during his training as a medical virologist in Germany and the United Kingdom. He came to South Africa in 2005 to become Head of the Division of Medical Virology at Stellenbosch University and NHLS Tygerberg, attracted by the combination of an enormous diagnostic workload with the ability to employ sophisticated methods. His research interests aim to close gaps in clinical and diagnostic virology. To improve the management of viral diseases through developing new and improving existing laboratory tests and evaluating their optimal clinical use, his research explores the full spectrum of diagnostic methods: antibody detection, genome quantification, measurement of specific cellular immunity and detection of drug resistance.
His research outputs cover three areas: diagnosis and monitoring of HIV infection, from antibody testing to genotyping; diagnosis and monitoring of opportunistic infections (esp. cytomegalovirus (CMV) and hepatitis B virus) in HIV-infected and otherwise immunocompromised individuals; and diagnostic and epidemiological aspects of emerging viral diseases. He has authored and co-authored 103 articles in peer-reviewed publications.
Dr Jantjie Taljaard completed his undergraduate training at the University of Pretoria in 1991. After qualifying as Specialist Physician [MMed (Internal Medicine)] at the University of Stellenbosch in 2001 he obtained a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from WITS in 2002.
He is currently head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Tygerberg Academic Hospital and the University of Stellenbosch. Special interests include TB infection control, HIV associated cancers, malaria, viral haemorrhagic fever and antibiotic stewardship. He lives in Paarl with his wife Laurinda and 9 year old daughter Joanie.
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