To accompany feature: New ways to flight the flu
1. Have you ever had the flu? Describe your symptoms. How did you treat your illness?
2. Have you ever gotten a flu shot? How do you think it works to protect people?
1. What numbers does the story provide to suggest influenza is a serious disease?
2. Explain the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic.
3. Define “immunity.”
4. How do we know the flu virus constantly evolves?
5. Do mutations help or hurt the flu virus?
6. Are vaccines a perfect match for the influenza types most common each flu season? Why or why not?
7. What does it mean to say RNA viruses are “sloppy?”
8. How and where does a virus “hide?”
9. Explain how the HA protein can be vulnerable to targeting by a medicine.
10. What other animals harbor flu viruses?
1. Did reading this story make you more or less likely to get vaccinated against the flu? Why or why not?
2. The flu virus constantly evolves. Why then is Jeffrey Noel so interested in parts of the virus that usually stay the same?
3. Research the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. (Here is one online source of information: http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/1918/.) How many people did it affect? What other event caused a large number of deaths around that same time?
1. Find the latest number for the total population of the United States. Now find the numbers given in the story for the number of people who come down with the flu, are hospitalized with the flu, and who die from the flu. Using those numbers, convert each to show each category’s share (percentage) of the U.S. population.