Revised October 2017
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Epidemiology of Nipah Virus
This worksheet complements the short video “
Virus Hunter: Monitoring Nipah Virus in Bat Populations
” from the
Scientists at Work
series. The Scientists at Work series is intended to provide insights into the daily work of
scientists that builds toward discoveries. The series focuses especially on scientists in the field and what motivates
their work. In this activity, students will play the role of epidemiologists, analyzing real data from an outbreak of
Nipah virus in Malaysia, attempting to identify the reservoir of the virus and curtail the outbreak. Students will
make predictions, perform calculations, adapt to new information, and make recommendations to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Viruses cause disease in some hosts and not others. Viruses are adapted to their natural host (reservoir).
Often, when viruses “spill over” into new species, they are far
deadlier than they are to their natural
reservoirs. Most viruses infect a limited number of species, or hosts, but occasionally they adapt and
spread to other hosts.
To understand how outbreaks begin and spread, public health officials collect evidence from basic
biological research, interviews, monitoring people’s health status, and purposefully designed studies.
There are many ways to assess whether an individual is infected with a virus, each with benefits and
Epidemiologists must obtain data (often times conflicting) from many sources and report pertinent
findings succinctly to allow outbreaks to be contained.
STUDENT LEARNING TARGETS
appropriate scientific terms, including “reservoir” and “spill over,” in describing a disease outbreak.
Synthesize information about antigens and antibodies with their knowledge about enzymes to
understand enzyme immunoassay technology.
Use the information collected in the studies to distill complex, real-world data and basic calculations to
make decisions on the spread of Nipah in the cases presented.
AP Bio (2015)
1.C.3, 2.D.3, 3.C.3, 4.B.4, SP1, SP2, and SP5
IB Bio (2016)
Vision and Change (2009)
CC1, CC5, DP1, DP2, DP5
epidemiology, immunology, Nipah, outbreak, quantitation, virus
One 50-minute class period; however, any of the five parts may be assigned as homework.
College-level general biology, virology, microbiology, immunology, or public health courses