GALVESTON — Galveston County residents will get a chance to have questions answered about Ebola and other infectious diseases such as Chickungunya even before the governor and other state leaders do.

The governor’s task force on infectious disease is scheduled to gathers in Austin next week, but today, Thomas Ksiazek, the director of High Containment Laboratory Operations at the University of Texas Medical Branch and a member of the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response; and Scott Weaver, direct of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the medical branch, will participate in a question-and-answer session with the public about Chikungunya, Ebola and other outbreaks.

Ksiazek, an expert on Ebola just returned from volunteering in Sierra Leon with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Weaver, a Chikungunya expert who recently conducted research on the mosquito-born disease in the Dominican Republic, will be at Mod Coffeehouse, 2126 Post Office St in Galveston, at 5:30 p.m. as part of the Sci Café series.

The series is meant to give people a chance to meet and speak with medical branch experts and gives scientists and doctors the opportunity to discuss their research in an informal setting, said Lauren Scott, the program director for the Environmental and Public Health Education and Engagement Community Outreach and Engagement Core at the medical branch’s Center in Environmental Toxicology.

There is a no PowerPoint rule for the experts that speak, Scott said. Instead, the majority of the event is meant to consist of scientists answering questions from the public.

And there should be plenty to talk about with a second health care worker in Dallas diagnosed with Ebola and the disease claiming over 4,000 lives in West Africa. Chikungunya, while not as deadly as Ebola, can lead to long-term joint pain and is spreading across the Americas.

The Sci Café series is held monthly at the downtown Galveston coffee shop and as many as for 40 people have participated in previews meetings, Scott said. But with Ebola and infectious diseases dominating headlines, Scott said she imagined there could be a large crowd for today’s event and encouraged people to show up early.

At a Glance

WHAT: Two University of Texas Medical Branch experts on Ebola and Chickungunya will participate in an question and answer session with the public.

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. today.

WHERE: Mod Coffeehouse, 2126 Post Office St. in Galveston

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or

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