USDA Teaching Resource: Understanding Avian Influenza

Article excerpt

Educators nationwide now have an additional information resource for teaching high school biology students about avian influenza, specifically the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus. The Understanding Avian Influenza lesson plan and instructor's guide are offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. The lesson explains the many reasons why students should know about the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus that currently is spreading overseas and what it would mean if the virus is detected in the United States.

Understanding Avian Influenza is available through Agriculture in the Classroom, a grassroots program coordinated by USDA. The goal of the program is to help students gain a greater awareness of the role of agriculture in the economy and society. The program is carried out in each state, according to state needs and interests, by individuals representing farm organizations, agribusiness, education, and government.

The highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza strain has infected thousands of domestic and wild bird populations in more than 50 countries. It is one of the few avian-influenza viruses to have crossed the species barrier to infect humans, and it is the most deadly of those that have crossed the barrier. Most cases of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian-influenza infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry or surfaces contaminated with secretions or excretions from infected birds. …