West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease: Exhibit Teaches How to Keep Both at Bay

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gateway Community College’s Library and Learning Commons hosted the first of what it hopes will be many traveling exhibits and educational exchanges with academic and cultural institutions in New Haven and the region. “Solving the Puzzle: Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus & You” is part of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History’s education program on emerging infectious diseases, funded by the National Institutes of Health.  

The five-panel exhibit featured information on the history of Lyme Disease and the West Nile Virus, as well as facts on the way each is spread, the symptoms to look for and preventive measures people can take. The exhibit also explored how our changing environment is increasing the incidence of both diseases.

“Many people stopped by to take a look and hopefully they learned about preventing these infectious diseases,” said Dr. Clara Ogbaa, the director of GCC’s Library and Learning Commons. For more information on the exhibit, click here.

Dr. Ogbaa said this was the first of many such educational exchanges and traveling exhibits at GCC’s Library and Learning Commons.  Dr. Ogbaa is forging new partnerships with Yale University and with other universities in the region, as well as the museums and cultural institutions in and around New Haven. “Now that we are here downtown, they have been contacting us about using our space and we have been contacting them about the possibilities of many different kinds of exhibits and collaborations,” she said. “This beautiful space has opened up so much to us.”  

Laura Fawcett, the NIH SEPA Peabody Fellows Director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, said the exhibits were funded by Yale Peabody Museum's federal Science Education Partnership Awards(SEPA) from the National Institutes of Health. The purpose of SEPA awards is to educate students and the community about public health issues and the role of clinical research in promoting new preventative and treatment approaches.

“Our two traveling exhibits have been touring a variety of sites around the state. These include public libraries, environmental education/nature centers, senior centers, schools, museums,” Fawcett said.  “We saw the opening of GCC downtown as a fantastic opportunity to reach a large number of people, as well as a catalyst for scheduling visits to other community colleges across the state. The GCC site is ideal, being in the center of downtown and accessible to many students, families and community and educational institutions.”

The two-story, 25,000 square foot Library and Learning Commons features new integrated user-focused services, technology and expertise to strengthen the teaching, research and learning mission of the college, as well as support student success.