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Mutation Types

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In Flew Enza
Teacher Contributed

Who's Enza?

Topic

Viruses

Student Exploration

Well shut the window!!

"I had a little bird, and its name was Enza, I opened the window, and in flew Enza". This tune (which was sung to the melody of "ring around the rosie") is a bit before your time. It's a nursery rhyme from 1918, something kids would sing while jumping rope. At the time, there was a worldwide pandemic of a type of avian influenza which was dubed the Spanish Flu. People theorize that little diddies like this are made up at times of extreme stress to help children manage, but no one knows for sure. Now, you may be thinking "What? Stress from the flu? The flu comes around every year, what's the big deal?" Well, you can go here to find out the big deal with the Spanish flu.

Here's a video showing how influenza infects organisms

At this point, some of you may be concerned because you have heard of the strains of bird flu making the rounds today. Well, to equal the Spanish flu a new flu strain would have to be highly lethal and readily transmitted. So far, no strains have come around with both these qualities. Not only that but scientists are using biomolecular techniques to study this virus and determine if any strain has a lethal comnbination of genes before the strain has spread into a pandemic and to hopefully have a vaccine ready. Go here to find out more.

Extension Investigation

Use the below resources to answer the following questions

  1. What is the estimate of deaths from the Spanish Flu?
  2. How are biomolecular techniques being used to combat avian flu?
  3. Why would it be useful to identify what gene allows influenza to “jump species”?
  4. How many people worldwide die from influenza every year?
  5. How does the virus enter the body?
  6. What are some other illnesses cause by viruses?
  7. What is the difference between the "lytic" and lysogenic" virus phases?

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