A Science Odyssey Title Medicine and Health Activity Title

Public Health Task Force

Overview: Research a disease and suggest ways to prevent its spread
Learning Goal: Appreciate the complexity of public health planning
Video Link: Bubonic Plague

Present the video segment on the plague outbreak in San Francisco. Ask students to note the strategies health officials undertook to try to stop the epidemic. After viewing, discuss these strategies with students. Were they effective? Why or why not? What could officials have done differently?

Today, infectious diseases have reemerged as worldwide threats to public health. Have individuals choose a health threat that interests them from the list below. Group students accordingly. Each group forms a task force to research and advise the government on ways to halt the disease. Teams need to find out when the disease was identified and how many people it has infected. What are its symptoms? How does it spread? How can it be prevented or treated? What social, economic, or environmental factors contribute to its spread?

After completing its research, each task force should prepare at least three recommendations to the government for limiting the spread of the disease. These could include changes to laws, spending on research, public awareness ads, or other measures. Students may think of familiar campaigns (such as anti-smoking) as potential models. After the task forces present and explain their recommendations to the class, encourage questions. For example: How will strategies be implemented? What are possible drawbacks? How can recommendations balance individual rights and the public welfare?

End-of-the-Century Health Threats
HIV/AIDS tuberculosis
Lyme disease hantavirus
meningitis rabies
yellow fever cholera
malaria diphtheria
Ebola fever Lassa fever
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections

Medicine and Health Program Contents

Activities subtitle

In Dangerous Times
What Happens When . . . ?
In-Depth Investigation: Disease Detectives

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