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UNTHSC alumnus a leader in West Nile virus battle

Tue, Apr 2, 2013

In the Community

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photo by DAVID WOO/DALLAS MORNING NEWS

Christopher Perkins, DO (’97), MPH (’99), is preparing for something he devoutly hopes won’t happen. As Dallas County Health and Human Services Medical Director and Health Authority, he is helping last year’s West Nile virus epicenter prepare for the 2013 season, which begins in May.

Last year, Dallas County recorded 398 human cases of West Nile Virus infections. “The epidemiologists told us that the 2012 outbreak was a one-in-50-year event,” Perkins said. “We hope it won’t happen again, but we are preparing with more mosquito surveillance and response including earlier spraying, if called for.”

Perkins says his training at the UNTHSC School of Public Health and the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine helped him synchronize a varied career. After graduating from TCOM in 1997, he served in the Navy, completing a traditional rotating internship. He returned to UNTHSC and earned an MPH in epidemiology in 1999. He went on to train in aerospace medicine and general preventive medicine.

Perkins’ background prior to medical school ignited his interest in public health. With an undergraduate degree in political science and sociology, he worked with the Dallas Police Department as a counselor to juvenile offenders. “I saw how social ills fuel individual problems,” Perkins says.

He emphasizes that the osteopathic and public health philosophies dovetail: “In both, you’re dealing with the whole person.”

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