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Tracking the Spread of Infectious Diseases

Contagious diseases can spread quickly through a population. If an infected individual mingles with healthy individuals, random contact can cause many more to become infected. This activity simulates the transmission of a contagious disease and the steps epidemiologists take to try to determine its source and limit its spread. Two scenarios are provided, one for an infection spreading among humans and another among livestock. If desired, the kit materials can also be used to simulate different “trackable” spreading event scenarios such as an invasive species or an outbreak of food poisoning. This activity also introduces the concept of exponential growth.
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