Epidemics and Pandemics

Epidemics and Pandemics

This module focuses on establishing a basic understanding of the concepts of epidemics and pandemics. It is expected this could take 30–50 minutes of class time, depending if activities are undertaken. This topic is particularly relevant with the relatively recent emergence of the Zika virus as a disease organism of concern in many countries around the world.

Summary

VCE Key Knowledge Biology Study Design (2017-2021)

Unit 4, Area of Study 2, Outcome 2, VCE Biology Study Design

Key knowledge:

Biological knowledge and society

  • The distinction between epidemics and pandemics

Duration

30–50 minutes

Student learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • distinguish the difference between epidemics and pandemics
  • list examples of major pandemics in history
  • accurately use common terms associated with epidemics and pandemics
  • state the six stages of a pandemic as described by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Teaching sequence

Activities

Activity 1.1 - Introduction to Epidemics and Pandemics

Teacher-centered presentation

Introduce students to the following websites:

These resources from WHO can be used for teachers’ background reading and to illustrate to students that there are organisations that address this issue worldwide.

Video

How pandemics spread

In our increasingly globalized world, a single infected person can board a plane and spread a virus across continents. Mark Honigsbaum describes the history of pandemics and how that knowledge can help halt future outbreaks. There is a three question quiz at the end of this video.

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Video

Epidemics, outbreaks and pandemics

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Video

Catalyst: Virus Hunters

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Optional activities

Activity 1.2 - NOVA scienceNOW: 1918 Flu

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/education/activities/3318_02_nsn.html#procedure

Summary

Students perform a sequence of six short simulations to model how an infectious disease can spread through a human population.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • state that some diseases are the result of infection.
  • describe the risks associated with biological hazards, such as viruses.
  • name ways that infectious disease can be prevented, controlled, or cured.
  • graphically represent data created in a classroom simulation.
  • describe how a disease can spread rapidly among a population.
  • explain how preventive measures help defend against infection.

Activity 1.3 - The Infection Game: The Shape of Change

Introduction

Students play a game that simulates the spread of an epidemic.
The Infection Game: The Shape of Change (329KB pdf)

The behavior we see in the game could represent bacteria spreading through an animal population, a virus spreading through a computer network, a rumor spreading through a school, the adoption of a fad in a country, or any other type of contagious agent. Social studies concepts could include the spread of disease in the New World, and the spread of ideas, social movements, or revolutions. The spread of disease can also be discussed from the science point of view. The disease in question might be a cold virus, the flu, smallpox, or AIDS. Mathematics skills include drawing and interpreting graphs, fitting a curve through data, and looking at patterns of behavior over time. Combine two classes to play this game. It takes at least 35 players to generate clear patterns of behavior.

Teacher and Student resources - additional information and activity suggestions

Video and Quiz

The Spread of Disease: Endemic, Epidemic & Pandemic

Use - Teacher resource and Student Activity

Topic - Epidemic and Pandemic

This lesson will talk about what an endemic disease is and how it is different from an epidemic. It also discusses how an epidemic differs from a pandemic. Finally, it looks at some examples of each to help solidify these points.

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Website

Biology for kids: Epidemics and Pandemics

Use - Teacher resource

Topic - Epidemic and Pandemics

Introduces the terms epidemic, pandemic and lists the six stages of a pandemic from WHO. This is useful for background information for teachers to introduce this topic.

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Website

Pandemic and epidemic diseases (PED)

Use - Teacher resource

Topic - Epidemic and Pandemics and diseases

The WHO website introduces types of diseases and highlights current diseases and issues causing problems today. Great background reading for the teacher.

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Website

Pandemic and epidemic diseases (PED)

Use - Teacher resource

Topic - Epidemic and Pandemics and diseases

This is a document from the WHO. This can be used for teaching background information and to illustrate to students that there are organisations that address this issue worldwide.

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Article

What’s the difference between an outbreak and an epidemic?

Use - Teacher resource

Topic - Epidemics and Pandemics

Good background teacher reading

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Website

The Phases and Stages of a Pandemic. What Are the Phases or Stages of a Pandemic?

Use - Teacher resource

Topic - Pandemics and the six stages

Understanding What a Pandemic is and its Phases

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Video and Quiz

How pandemics spread

Use - Teacher resource and Student Activity

Topic - Spreading of Pandemics

Interesting video to present to students followed by a short quiz

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Website

The Five Deadliest Outbreaks and Pandemics in History

Use - Teacher resource

Topic - Pandemic historical examples

This includes relevant information on great pandemics of the past

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Website

Basic Facts: Definition of a Pandemic

Use - Teacher resource

Topic - Pandemic

Search the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on information about pandemics

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Activity (pdf)

Pandemic: Learning from the Past, Planning for the future

Use - Student Activity

Topic - Pandemic

An activity for students to complete on pandemics. It defines vocabulary associated with pandemic, describes the 1918 flu pandemic, comparing life today vs. 1918. Students discuss recommendations to reduce spread of disease during a future pandemic. It is recommended making this resource more Australian focused by using the Catalyst video.

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Video

Virus Hunters

Use - Teacher and in class video

Topic - Pandemic and Viruses

CSIRO's research laboratory in Australia. How scientists research deadly virus.

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Activity (pdf)

Mosquitoes in Your Backyard

Use - Students

Topic - Mosquito, Pandemic, Epidemic, global events

Mosquito development and survival is heavily influenced by environmental factors. Even though in your class you can study mosquitoes in small rearing containers, environmental conditions can influence mosquito populations on regional and global scales. After discussing the class’s experimental data, introduce a global thinking approach about how large-scale conditions (like climate) can influence mosquito populations, and extend this to the concepts of an epidemic and pandemic. The terms epidemic and pandemic usually refer to the rate of infection, the area that is affected or both.

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Extension to Mosquito Borne Diseases

These resources and activities use the theme of mosquito-borne diseases to develop an understanding of epidemics and pandemics.

Website

Yellow Fever: Resetting the yellow fever strategy

This page highlights the issue of yellow fever and how it is reemerging. There is a short video here explaining the situation.

Summary: Changes in the way humans live and work, and the resurgence of mosquito vectors, particularly the Aedes aegypti mosquito (which spreads Zika, dengue fever and chikungunya), have raised the global risk of yellow fever. Two large yellow fever outbreaks in Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo are now under control, but these are just warnings of bigger outbreaks to come if action is not taken.

A coalition of partners working to stop yellow fever outbreaks met in Geneva on 12 September 2016 to develop a new strategy - Eliminating Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE). This strategy aims to protect the populations most at risk, ensure a ready supply of yellow fever vaccine, build resilience in urban centres and prevent international spread.

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Activity (pdf)

Mosquitoes in your Backyard

Modification of this resource. Mosquitoes in your Backyard. Page 6.

Mosquito development and survival are heavily influenced by environmental factors. Environmental conditions can influence mosquito populations on regional and global scales. Introduce a global thinking approach about how large scale conditions (like climate) can influence mosquito populations, and extend this to the concepts of an epidemic and pandemic. The terms epidemic and pandemic usually refer to the rate of infection, the area that is affected or both.

Epidemic: An epidemic is defined as an illness or health-related issue that is showing up in more cases than would normally be expected.

Pandemic: In the case of a pandemic, even more of the population is affected than in an epidemic.

Extend the concepts of an epidemic and pandemic to mosquito-borne disease. What environmental conditions could cause an epidemic? A pandemic? Based on the mosquito life cycle and its biology, what may be some ways to control mosquitoes and reduce/prevent vector-borne disease outbreaks? If desired (and time allowing) extend this concept to current events.

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Contributors

Thanks to the following for contributing to the development of these sequences:

Special thanks to Ian Bentley and Mary Vamvakas