The following unit was developed with the understanding that diseases are an ever evolving crisis whose continuous ebb and flow through history helped to shape humans as a species. Human response to outbreaks has led to innovations in sanitation, modern medicine, and scientific discovery. Understanding transmission and developing treatments have allowed humans to gain a form of mastery over what was previously thought to be an unstoppable force. However, as humans respond to diseases, diseases reply with new out breaks and re-emergence of pathogens that devastate populations and upset the tentative balance we have fought hard to win. This unit provides students and teachers the chance to explore the arms race between humans and emerging infectious pathogens.
At the time this unit was conceived, several potential dangerous pathogens were emerging in the global population. While this unit focuses on these outbreaks and several notable outbreaks in recent history, there is room to utilize current discoveries to keep this unit up to date and relevant in the classroom. Furthermore, as with all emerging diseases, time is required to fully understand the nature of their transmittance and origin. As such, information included in this unit may be outdated. It is highly recommended that the materials provided in this unit are supplemented by current research and articles in order to provide the most up to date picture of the emerging diseases discussed.
This unit touches five major topics areas and necessary background information. While the scope of this unit is very broad and may take between four and six weeks to complete, each of the topic area can be reduced to form five mini-unit or lesson plans. This particular unit was developed for high school students in either biology or biomedical science courses. The materials and activities in this unit plan can be scaled down to accommodate younger students or can be extended to build a strong science enrichment program.