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Animal & Plant Biosecurity

Understanding Avian Influenza

NIFA directed a multi-agency effort to develop Understanding Avian Influenza, a lesson plan for high school science students that helps students develop problem-solving and knowledge-processing skills using a real-life application: the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in poultry and wild birds. The lesson plan contains material from all federal agencies, including the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education. The lesson plan is also available through Ag in the Classroom (AITC).

While H5N1 has not yet mutated into a virus that can easily infect humans, some people outside the United States have gotten sick and died after extensive direct contact with infected poultry. There is no human immunity and no vaccine is available.

Using avian influenza as a model, this science activity will allow students to step into the role of a government or public health official. Students will track the spread of this animal health disease from its first appearance in Hong Kong in 1996 to the latest findings in 2006. They will also learn the differences in avian flu viruses and why the current outbreak, though an animal health problem, has pandemic potential.

The Avian Influenza Lesson Plan is just one of many educational resources available through AITC. AITC helps students gain greater awareness of the role of agriculture in the economy and society.

See related news release.


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