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Lesson 2: How Does Hand Washing Affect the Spread of Influenza Through a School?

The flu is a common illness caused by the influenza virus. The virus is highly contagious. Can hand washing reduce the number of infections due to influenza?

Doing the Science

  1. Start the Flu Transmission Simulation.
  2. Select the "Hand washing" button under the Factor menu on the left-bottom of the screen.
  3. Select the "Run" button at the bottom center of the screen.
  4. Note the Progress bar, which shows time running for a six-week period.
  5. Select the "1" icon on the Progress bar.
  6. Count and record in Table 1 the number of infected students at the end of the first week of the flu outbreak.
  7. Select the "2" icon on the Progress bar.
  8. Count and record in Table 1 the number of infected students at the end of the second week of the flu outbreak.
  9. Repeat this process until you have counted and recorded data for all six weeks.

Table 1.

Week

Infected

Uninfected

Week

Infected

Uninfected

1

4

2

5

3

6

 

Do You Understand?

  1. As time progressed, how did the number of students who were infected by the flu change?


  2. Compared to your results from Lesson 1, how did hand washing affect the spread of influenza in the school?


  3. Describe the procedure that a person should follow to effectively hand wash.


  4. How does hand washing reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria?


  5. The door knobs on bathroom stalls typically have a much higher number of viruses and bacteria than the toilet seats inside the stalls. Propose a reason for this difference in the number of pathogens based on location.


  6. A person claims that using antibiotic soap to hand wash is much better at reducing viral infections than regular soap. How would you respond to this person's claim? Please support your response with a reason.