Why we wash our hands! Intro to Epidemiology

In today’s lesson, we learned about infectious diseases and epidemiology.  We began our lesson with a brief history of early scientific discoveries about germs and the spread of disease and continued with present day infectious diseases and their virulence.  We defined the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic and did independent research on different examples of these types of disease.  Many diseases can be spread via animal vectors such as the mosquito and others can be spread via human contact or contaminated drinking water.  We discussed these differences and how disease can be prevented in an instructor lead group discussion.

For the group activity in this lesson, we brought all cohorts together for a simulation mimicking a disease outbreak in a population.  We started with cups of water, one for each student.  One of these water cups was “infected” with a dye that reacts with a pH indicator dye. As students came into contact with other students they had to mix their water cups and thus spread the disease.  At the end of three rounds students were “diagnosed” with indicator dye that turned bright pink when mixed with the infected persons water cup.  Students were then instructed to try and find “patient zero” or the originally infected individual by tracing back through their interactions with other students.  

Next time your student sneezes without covering their mouth or touches something that could contain germs, just ask them if they remember learning about epidemiology.  What color would their water turn?  Would they be diagnosed as sick or not?  It should definitely jog their memory and assist with their new found love of washing their hands and staying germ free!

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