Teaching Viruses and Epidemiology Online

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This playlist can be used to teach about the biology of viruses and epidemiology in an online setting. The topics covered include the structures and transmission mechanisms of viruses, zoonotic diseases, viral outbreaks, viral evolution during an outbreak, and epidemiology.

By completing the resources in this playlist, students will be able to:

  • List the ways in which viruses can differ from each other.
  • Identify different components and characteristics of viruses and their role in infection.
  • Calculate the size of a virus relative to a human cell.
  • Use information collected in case studies to distill complex, real-world data, and perform basic calculations to make decisions on the spread of an infectious disease.
  • Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure. 
  • Explain the term “zoonotic disease” and discuss some of the global patterns in mammals that carry these diseases.
  • Use appropriate scientific terms, including “reservoir” and “spillover,” in describing a disease outbreak.
  • Analyze and interpret sequence data to explain how viruses evolve over time during an outbreak.

This playlist can be used in AP/IB Biology and undergraduate college courses. 

Virus Explorer
Topic
Microbiology
Resource Type
Interactive Media

In this Click & Learn, students explore the diversity of viruses based on structure, genome type, host range, transmission mechanism, and vaccine availability.

To use this resource as part of this playlist, have students explore the Click & Learn and complete the associated worksheet. The extension activity at the end of the worksheet is optional; you may want to assign it if students don’t have a strong understanding of relative size.

Patterns of Zoonotic Disease
Topic
Microbiology
Science Practices
Resource Type
Activities

In this Data Point activity, students analyze a published scientific figure from a study on the global distribution of zoonotic pathogens and their host species.

To use this resource as part of this playlist, use the questions in the “Educator Materials” to guide a class discussion. The full scientific paper is also available from the “Materials” box of this resource’s webpage; it can be used to give the students an opportunity to practice reading primary literature. 

Epidemiology of Nipah Virus
Topic
Microbiology
Science Practices
Resource Type
Activities

In this activity, students analyze evidence, perform calculations and make predictions based on real-world data about a viral outbreak.  Part of the activity involves watching the related video Virus Hunter: Monitoring Nipah Virus in Bat Populations (resource 4 in this playlist).

To use this resource as part of this playlist, have students complete the “Student Handout,” watching the video when instructed.

You can supplement this activity by having students research the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China using this paper or in another region citing their references. They can write a mini-case study (using Part 1 of this activity as a template) to demonstrate the knowledge they’ve gained.

Virus Hunter: Monitoring Nipah Virus in Bat Populations
Topic
Microbiology
Science Practices
Resource Type
Videos

This video follows scientists working in Bangladesh as they test fruit bat populations to determine whether they are infected with Nipah virus, a potentially deadly human pathogen.

To use this resource as part of this playlist, refer to the notes accompanying the “Epidemiology of Nipah Virus” activity (resource 3 in this playlist).

Ebola: Disease Detectives
Topic
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Microbiology
Evolution
Resource Type
Activities

In this activity, students analyze DNA sequences of Ebola viruses to track the virus’s spread during the 2013–2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Part of the activity involves watching the related video Think Like a Scientist: Natural Selection in an Outbreak (resource 6 in this playlist).

To use this resource as part of this playlist:

  • Have students complete up through Part 1 of the “Student Worksheet,” watching the video when instructed. It is recommended to provide this section of the worksheet separately, since Part 2 gives away some answers.
  • The worksheet asks students to sort cards of DNA sequences. Students can do this online  without printing cards by analyzing the “Sequence Sheet” PDF and writing down the sequence numbers for each grouping.
  • After students finish Part 1, have them complete Part 2.

You can supplement this activity by having students compare and contrast methods used to track Ebola, Nipah, and the COVID-19 outbreak they may have researched in resource 3 of this playlist.

Think Like a Scientist: Natural Selection in an Outbreak
Topic
Genetics
Microbiology
Evolution
Resource Type
Videos

This video focuses on the front lines of the 2013–2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and explains how scientists monitored the evolution of the virus by analyzing its genome.

To use this resource as part of this playlist, refer to the notes accompanying the “Ebola: Disease Detectives” activity (resource 5 in this playlist).

Age Structure of Ebola Outbreaks
Topic
Microbiology
Science Practices
Resource Type
Activities

In this Data Point activity, students analyze a published scientific figure from a study that investigated demographic patterns in Ebola outbreaks from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

To use this resource as part of this playlist, use the questions in the “Educator Materials” to guide a class discussion. The full scientific paper is also available under “Primary Literature” in the “Details” section from this resource’s webpage; it can be used to give the students an opportunity to practice reading primary literature.

You can supplement this activity by having students research demographic patterns in another outbreak, such as COVID-19 or Nipah. Based on their research, they can create a similar figure representing the age structure of the outbreak they chose.