In our increasingly globalized world, a single infected person can board a plane and spread a virus across continents. Mark Honigsbaum describes the history of pandemics and how that knowledge can help halt future outbreaks.
Learn more about the influenza pandemic of 1918-19, which claimed the lives of 50 million people worldwide. Investigate how the media chronicled the pandemic, and explore personal accounts of the crisis. Good resources include:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “The Great Pandemic: The United States in 1918-1919,” http://1918.pandemicflu.gov/
The National Archives “The Deadly Virus: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918,” http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/influenza-epidemic/
PBS’s “The American Experience: Influenza 1918,” http://www.pbs.org/ americanexperience/films/influenza/player/ (watch the documentary online)
Visit your local library or historical society to research the influenza pandemic in your own community. Then prepare an online exhibit or documentary to share what you’ve learned.
Epidemics and pandemics are hot stuff in Hollywood. Wipe down some chairs with disposable disinfectant wipes, dole out the latex gloves, and pass around the popcorn for an infectious disease film festival. Your queue might include Contagion (2011), Pandemic (2009), Carriers (2009), I Am Legend (2007), and Outbreak (1995). Do these films impart any useful information about epidemics and pandemics? Do they promote panic? Or do they simply satisfy our craving for a good, short-lived scare?