Newswise — Conflicting reports on the dangers of Zika virus for U.S. citizens can be confusing to the general public. Saint Louis University expert and former Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Homeland Security, is available to answer questions about the threat to public health.

Alexander Garza, M.D., is associate dean for public health practice and associate professor of epidemiology at Saint Louis University.

He says:

"The government should be supporting spending money for the development of vaccines for emerging infections," Garza said. "We have seen this before with Ebola as an emerging infectious disease and we need to have a serious strategy to stay ahead of the curve instead of coming up behind."

He can offer an update on CDC guidelines, talk about the need for vaccine research on this emerging infection and calls for increased funding to test moms who might be infected and their babies for Zika.

Dr. Garza comes to SLU after service in the Federal Government. In August of 2009, Garza was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where he served until April 2013. Dr. Garza led the health and security efforts for DHS, which included the health aspects of terrorism and natural disasters.

The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice is the only academic unit of its kind among the nearly 250 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States. With a focus on finding innovative and collaborative solutions for complex global health problems, the College offers nationally recognized programs in global public health, social work, health management and health policy, epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, behavioral science and health education, emergency management, biosecurity and disaster preparedness, and criminology and criminal justice.