Microbiology experts to visit for American Society for Virology meeting

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A new outbreak of a SARS-like virus has recently infected dozens of people in the Middle East, and experts are concerned that it could become a wider epidemic. According to recent World Health Organization numbers, half of the people with the virus have died and some fear this new strain of illness could spread rapidly from person to person.

The lethal virus is just one topic of discussion slated for the American Society for Virology’s 32nd annual meeting at Penn State’s University Park campus. More than 1,200 leading microbiology and virus experts will take part in the five-day conference from July 20-24.

“Emergence of new viruses such as the new SARS-like virus has garnered much interest and media coverage, and this has enhanced public knowledge and awareness of the threat posed by these potential pathogens,” said Anthony Schmitt, an associate professor of molecular virology at Penn State and co-chair of the conference.

SARS, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome, came to worldwide prominence in 2002 and 2003 after an outbreak saw 8,273 cases and 775 deaths reported in 37 countries, according to the World Health Organization. The virus spreads quickly among humans and other animals, causing a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. The SARS-like coronavirus infecting parts of the Middle East today is reminiscent of SARS in its ability to spread quickly and attack the respiratory system.

The annual meeting contains sessions on multiple aspects of virology. Leading experts from all over the country will attend to take part in workshops, poster sessions and special education presentations, along with various social events.

“Much of what we know about viruses comes from research done at universities like Penn State,” said Schmitt. “Laboratories at the University Park and Hershey campuses are making significant investments to understand the multiple facets of the infectious disease process.”

Click here for more information or to register for the conference.

Penn State Conferences plans and manages hundreds of programs each year which represent the diversity and strength of Penn State’s academic colleges and provide opportunities for individuals to learn about the latest scholarship, research and developments in their fields or participate in enriching learning experiences. Penn State Conferences is part of Penn State Outreach, which serves more than 5 million people each year, in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and more than 100 countries worldwide.

Contacts: 
Last Updated June 27, 2013