LIVINGSTON, NJ — A special seminar will be held this Thursday at the West Essex YMCA on the Zika Virus, which could soon be a larger threat in New Jersey than expected. It is open to members and nonmembers.

Dr. Peter Wenger, an attending physician in pediatric infectious disease at St. Peters University Hospital in New Brunswick and the former Epidemic Intelligence Officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will share crucial information about what causes the Zika Virus, some of the major symptoms and how to protect one’s self and others.

“Bringing awareness and proper information to the community is the key to prevention,” said West Essex Y Health Enhancement Director Barbara Santola. “Not only to help people protect themselves and other young adults, but also to prevent them from potentially overreacting or panicking. With that knowledge and awareness comes a healthier community.”

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Santola said that although many New Jersey residents fear the thought of the Zika Virus reaching New Jersey and threatening its population, most people do not know enough about the virus to understand it.

The Zika Virus is on the rise in many countries and has become an epidemic in some cases. This summer, federal state and health officials say that the virus is evolving fast could very well reach New Jersey during mosquito season.

Wenger will discuss many aspects of the disease, including how New Jersey’s mosquito population could affect the virus’ ability to spread, some of the severe defects it causes to unborn children and what the community could do to actively prevent its spread.

“With the Zika Virus on the rise in the United States and in New Jersey we felt very important to bring the proper authorities to speak with our community,” said Santola. “Dr. Wenger graciously offered to host a seminar at the West Essex Y so that he could put any questions at bay.”

This event is free and open to the community at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, in the Child Watch Center of the West Essex YMCA. The Y asks that nonmembers present proper government-issued identification (i.e. a driver’s license) when entering the building.