Baker Institute expert available to comment on Ebola virus outbreak


David Ruth

Jeff Falk

Baker Institute expert available to comment on Ebola virus outbreak
Hotez: Risk of Ebola and the Ebola virus gaining a foothold in Texas is extremely low    

HOUSTON – (July 31, 2014) – Sierra Leone’s president today declared a state of emergency over the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in history. To date, Ebola has infected more than 1,200 people in three West African countries and killed close to 700 of them. The outbreak received extra media attention when two Americans became infected and a Liberian-born United States citizen died.


The risk of Ebola and the Ebola virus gaining a foothold in Texas is extremely low, according to Dr. Peter Hotez, the fellow in disease and poverty at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Hotez is available to comment on the outbreak and its implications.

“One of the reasons this disease has spread through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia is that they are still in the postconflict stage with severely depleted health systems and health care infrastructures,” Hotez said. “In contrast, we are fortunate to have first-rate city, county and state health departments, together with a top-flight Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, we should be mindful of the fact that severe tropical diseases are not new to Africa. The emergence of Ebola in West Africa is a great tragedy, but at the same time, all of the people who have died so far of Ebola are equivalent to the number of Africans who die every day from illnesses such as malaria or schistosomiasis. We too have our own neglected tropical diseases, such as dengue, Chagas disease and toxocariasis, and this too needs to be an important public health focus.”

Hotez is dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, where he is a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, head of the Section of Pediatric Tropical Medicine and the Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics. Hotez is also president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research, where he leads a partnership to develop new vaccines for hookworm, schistosomiasis and Chagas disease. He co-founded the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases to provide access to essential medicines for millions of people worldwide.

For more information or to interview Hotez, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6775.


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Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top 15 university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog,

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.