The Habitable PlanetHabitable Planet home page

Interactive Labs

Disease Lab

Lessons > Counter-Virus > Step 1

What if we were to face an outbreak of a disease such as avian flu? In 1918-1919, the world experienced a pandemic unlike anything seen since the Black Plague of the mid-14th century in Europe. The Spanish Flu, or La Grippe, killed somewhere between 20 and 40 million people worldwide. In America alone, 28% of the population was infected with the virus, the vast majority of whom where between the ages of 20 and 40. There was no method in place at that time to deal with a pandemic with such a high contagion rate as well as a high death rate. The disease was new to the world in both form and function.

In this lesson, imagine a new disease for which there is no vaccine and the death rate might be very high. Examine the details of Red Death and predict how many sick days per capita and the death toll of this new disease in low population and low mixing and record the prediction in your table. To see if you're correct, set the tableau to virgin, run the simulation three times, and record your data.

What if you had a high population and high mixing? Record your prediction, change the population and mixing settings to high, and run the simulator three times. Record your data and compare with your prediction.

  1. Calculate contagion rate for each scenario (rural: low/low, urban: high/high). Would either of these scenarios be considered epidemic? Why or why not? What practical, precautionary measure would you suggest for each situation based on your calculated contagion rates?

© Annenberg Foundation 2017. All rights reserved. Legal Policy