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How do germs spread (and why do they make us sick)? - Yannay Khaikin and Nicole Mideo

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Germs are found on almost every surface we come in contact with, which makes it incredibly common for our bodies to be exposed to them. But why are some of these germs relatively harmless, while others can be fatal? Yannay Khaikan and Nicole Mideo explore this question by examining germs’ varying modes of transmission.

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TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Yannay Khaikin, Nicole Mideo
  • Director Richard O'Connor
  • Artist Liesje Kraai
  • Animator Taisiya Zaretskaya
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
There’s lots more to learn about the evolution of the rhino virus that causes the common cold. Read “Catching the Cold,” and learn why scientists are tracking the genetic diversity of the common cold. Want a virus’ point of view? Go to the Understanding Evolution site at Berkley and read more about virulence and modes of transmission for viruses. How can host immunity affect viral evolution?

How Flu Viruses Attack from National Geographic is a great introduction of how easily a pandemic can begin. Watch and learn exactly how a virus attacks and how a human body responds. What can we do to protect ourselves? What parallels do you see with how the Ebola virus is affecting the global community? Not sure what to believe about Ebola? This article at National Geographic can help you separate fact from fiction.

Viral replication! How many different rhino viruses exist? Viruses make copies of themselves, learn how in this video. Replication is a part of why viruses are so successful. How could we use this characteristic against the viruses themselves to protect the human race?

Get vaccinated, wash your hands, and avoid close contact! Germs spread very easily, sometimes without thinking we inadvertently open ourselves up to exposure. Visit the Center for Disease Control website and learn how to decrease the spread of germs. Surf the CDC website and learn more about the global ebola outbreak, traveling safely and healthy living.

Mom always told you, “Cover your mouth when you sneeze!” Prepare to be grossed out! Learn why in this Mythbusters: Art of the Sneeze! You will never look at a sneeze the same way! Then watch Science Friday: Nothing to Sneeze At! Learn about the physics and math of a sneeze. Do the things we use to deter spreading the effects of a sneeze really help?

As a reminder for flu and cold season, watch this PSA about stopping the spread of germs. Protect yourself with more germ knowledge here.

Have we created “supergerms?” The PBS Frontline: Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria, answers these questions and more. Watch the show and learn how human overuse of antibiotics has contributed to creating bacteria we cannot control. The World Health Organization (WHO) website has more information. Can you now explain how “supergerms” were created to someone who has never heard of them?

Insects are vectors of disease that we may not normally think about. Learn more about the transmission of malaria and the life cycle of plasmodium with this animation. Malaria is a actually a parasite! Watch Monsters Inside Me and learn how deadly malaria is. How many people across the world are affected yearly? The prevention of malaria is a top global concern with the Gates Foundation. Watch the Bill Gates TED Talk: Mosquitos, malaria and education. Is there a difference how malaria prevention has been treated in wealthier countries versus not so wealthy countries?

Germ poetry? Why not? Read: The Germ by Ogden Nash!

Want more lessons on germs, viruses and the spread of disease?

Can we domesticate germs? - Paul Ewald
How we conquered the deadly smallpox virus - Simona Zompi
The loathsome, lethal mosquito - Rose Eveleth
The past, present and future of the bubonic plague - Sharon N. DeWitte
What causes antibiotic resistance? - Kevin Wu

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Yannay Khaikin, Nicole Mideo
  • Director Richard O'Connor
  • Artist Liesje Kraai
  • Animator Taisiya Zaretskaya
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen

Share

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