Searching for the Next Killer Virus

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Story Description:

In today’s world, there are more new disease outbreaks than ever before. Over the past century, the number of new infectious diseases appearing each year has quadrupled. Now, scientists part of a project called PREDICT are trapping and testing animals in rainforests around the world in an effort to find new viruses before they reach the human population. These scientists believe they are preventing new outbreaks, but critics say people should be focused on finding treatments and creating vaccines for existing viruses. Listen to learn more about how infectious diseases pass from rainforest ecosystems to human populations and what scientists are doing to combat this growing trend.

 

Listening Comprehension Questions:

  • Why are rainforests the biggest source of new diseases?
  • What methods are the PREDICT scientists using to search for new viruses?
  • How successful are the scientists in gathering new information about diseases?
  • Why would it be a bad idea to get rid of bats, even though they spread disease?
  • How is deforestation tied to the breakout of disease?

 

Classroom Discussion Themes:

  • What do you think is more important, treating current diseases, or searching for new diseases in order to prevent future outbreaks?
  • Do you think it is possible to reverse the damage done to the world’s rainforests? How can we encourage businesses to be more environmentally responsible?