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Marcia Harrison-Pitaniello
Department of Biological Sciences
Marshall University
Campus Outbreak!: Modeling Seasonal Influenza

This PowerPoint-driven case study follows the progress of three undergraduate students as they attempt to model the rapid spread of an influenza outbreak to determine whether their local newspaper's claim that "40% of the campus has the flu" is accurate. The case introduces epidemiological modeling using a base model for a seasonal influenza outbreak written in the NetLogo programmable modeling environment. In class, students develop tests for the various parameters of the model, run simulations, and evaluate the output. The students then explore the impact of influenza control strategies (vaccination, isolation, and antiviral medications), and finish with the question of whether the continuing outbreak on campus could be a pandemic. The case is written at a basic level for a lower-level undergraduate lecture-style class, but can be adapted to upper-level courses as well. The case was piloted in four different microbiology courses. The simulations stimulated active discussion and the content worked well, whether it was used in a pre-nursing microbiology or upper-level immunology class.