Antigenic Shift and Driftby: Meena Balgopal and Cindi Bondy

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It’s that time of year again, when avoiding the flu is on everyone’s mind. As we brace ourselves for possible flu outbreaks, the need to understand biological issues related to this virus becomes clear. Through modeling, the lesson presented in this article helps students understand how the influenza virus (or flu) evolves and how flu vaccines are selected each year.

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Reviews (2)
  • on Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:22 PM

My high school biology class used this simulation this week. It was perfect to help them understand how viruses can modify. We ran the simulation for several "seasons" and then were able to graph the data to determine the number of different strains, what seasons the strain were present, and the relative occurrence of the particular stain. We had a class discussion to pick the strains that should be in next year's vaccine. We also were able to talk about new novel strains because we generated some in the simulation. You have got to try this. It is simple to set up and easy to incorporate into your existing curriculum.

Ruth Hutson  (Westmoreland, KS)
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)

  • on Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:50 AM

By making models of the flu virus, students can understand how quickly the virus can evolve using antigenic shift and antigenic drift. Students begin by constructing several different flu models. Next students explore reassortment of genes by completing another simulation. Students then determine how many new strains have been produced and compare what they did in class with the methods that the CDC uses. Web resources are included.

Ruth Hutson  (Westmoreland, KS)
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)

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