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NOVA scienceNOW: 1918 Flu

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Health-care workers in many countries are very concerned about the increasing possibility of a devastating worldwide pandemic caused by the H5N1 avian flu virus that has recently appeared in Asia. Scientists explain that they are studying the virus that caused the 1918 flu pandemic to gain insight into how a virulent flu virus spreads and what makes it so virulent.

This NOVA scienceNOW segment:

  • reports that scientists have revived a virus collected from a stored sample of tissue taken from a First World War soldier who died from the flu in 1918.

  • explains that the 1918 flu virus was especially virulent because of the way that it infected and destroyed deep lung tissue.

  • describes how scientists used reverse genetics to combine genes from a seasonal flu virus with bits of DNA from the 1918 virus to explore just what made it so virulent.

  • discusses how epidemics and pandemics have effected populations and cultures throughout history.

  • examines the dynamics of the spread of viral epidemics and how inoculation and prevention can change the infection pattern.

  • notes the broad strategies used to manage an epidemic.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after the program is taped off the air.

Teacher's Guide
NOVA scienceNOW: 1918 Flu
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