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Mapping Health: Seasonal Flu Surveillance

Module by: Niki Stanley. E-mail the author

Summary: test

Mapping Health

Seasonal Flu Surveillance


[Short abstract here]


The student will:

  • develop hypotheses
  • test hypotheses through data
  • collaborate and debate with peers
  • read maps and draw conclusions from them
  • use the World Wide Web
  • explore disease vectors
  • explore mitigation strategies

Essential Questions

  • What are the controlling factors causing the swine flu anomaly of the Southeast?
  • How can we use data in the form of maps to explore correlations?
  • How do we make and test hypotheses, or educated guesses?
  • How can we use conclusions regarding what causes flu spread to help make society safer?


  • swine flu
  • virus
  • population density
  • tourism
  • infection
  • feral hogs
  • bird migration
  • hypothesis


  • Interpretations of maps
  • Peer collaboration
  • Strategies for mitigation

Recommendations for lesson grouping/sequencing

[insert recommendations here for grouping or sequencing with other lessons]

Missouri Course Level Expectations (CLEs)

  • Strand 4—1Aa, 1Ca,b, 1Da;
  • Strand 7—1Aa, b, c, 1Ba, c, d, 1Ca, b, 1Da, b, c;
  • Strand 8—3Ba, b, c, 3Da

For more information on Missouri CLEs for science, please visit the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.

National Standards

[insert national standards here]


[insert credits here]

1. Engage

You are talking with some friends after school. One tells you that swine flu is influenced by presence of feral hogs. Another implicates birds flying around the country. Another friend mentions tourism, while another tells you that high population density is a possible cause.

Which of these factors do you think have the greatest influence on the spread of swine flu? Write a hypothesis below.

For each factor you listed above, explain the reason you think this helps swine flu spread. Write these below.

Based on your responses in (2), what are some suggestions you would have to prevent swine flu from spreading?

2. Explore

Your teacher will show or give you a Powerpoint containing maps of flu intensity for each week of the flu season for 2010. Click through these maps to see how flu spreads. Make the following observations:

Which areas of the U.S. seem to have minimal swine flu?

Which areas of the U.S. have the highest swine flu intensity?

In which areas does swine flu intensity change a lot (switch on and off)?

3. Explain

Now we will test each of the factors listed from part 1 of this lesson.

Feral Pigs

Look at the Feral Pig Distribution Map located in the Powerpoint file.

  1. In which areas in the US are feral pigs common? How does this compare to the distribution of the flu?
  2. If the areas are similar, does this mean that feral pigs cause the flu or could there be another explanation?
  3. How would you respond to the friend that told you that feral pigs transmit swine flu?


Visit the list of Top 25 Most Visited Tourist Destinations in America.

  1. How many of the cities listed as the top tourist destinations lie within the areas of high flu intensity?
  2. How would you respond to the friend who told you that tourism is a cause for transmitting the flu?

Population density

Look at the Population Density map in your Powerpoint file.

  1. Are the areas with intense flu also areas of high population density?
  2. Are there areas of high population density with little to no flu? If so, where?
  3. Are there areas of low population density with high flu intensity? If so, where?
  4. How would you respond to the friend who told you that high population density assists flu spread?

Bird Migration

Visit this website showing the migration patterns of the American Widgeon and the Ring Necked Duck-White.

  1. Do all of the bird migration routes go through areas of high flu intensity?
  2. Click on two migration routes that go through the areas of high flu intensity. Which birds do you see in these areas?
  3. Click on two migration routes that go through the areas of low flu intensity. Which birds do you see in these areas?
  4. Do you think bird migration initiates flu spread? Why or why not?
  5. Is there a particular species of bird you would implicate in spreading flu? Which one, and why?
  6. How do you respond to the friend who tells you birds transmit flu?

4. Elaborate & Evaluate

The next day, you go back to your friends and tell them what you have found. They ask, “So how can we use this information to keep us safe from the flu?

Based on what you have found, which factors of the four above contribute to flu spread? Which do not?

How does what you know now differ from what you knew before?

Now that you know of possible causes for the flu, what are some ways we could address these to prevent flu spread and make our society safer?

Are there any conclusions you have made that don’t make sense? If so, why?

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