Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Green Room

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Green Room

Article excerpt

November 2014, Making Your Teaching More Environmentally Friendly

The Deadliest Infectious Diseases

The Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in western Africa has drawn international attention and concern. EVD kills more than half of those who contract it within days or weeks after symptoms first appear. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide status updates for EVD online (see "On the web"). EVD is an infectious or communicable disease transmitted through bodily fluids.

Ebola is a frightening infectious disease but certainly not the deadliest one around. Globally, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria kill millions more people every year than Ebola does; these effective pathogens maximize transmission among people by killing slowly. That is, those infected survive longer, giving them more time to spread the disease before dying.

Classroom activities

You can link human health topics, including infectious disease, to environmental health in your lessons. Many infectious diseases, for example, are considered diseases of poverty. Communities lacking adequate disease vector control and prevention measures--sanitation, wastewater treatment, and drinking water treatment--are the hardest hit (see "On the web"). Discussing infectious disease during your water pollution unit is a natural fit.

Let students explore the virtual Bacteria Museum, particularly the pathogenic bacteria pages (see "On the web"). The interactive bacterial cell model from CELLS Alive! is also informative. Students should read the article about bacteria and complete one of the many activities provided in "Bacteria: Friend or Foe?" by the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Many viruses are pathogens as well. Have your students construct 3-D models of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the activity from BioEd Online.

In the virus outbreak activity from the University of Georgia, students can simulate the uncontrolled spread of a disease through a population and locate "patient zero. …

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