Disease Along the River: A Case Study and Cholera Outbreak Game
Department of Neurobiology and Behavior
University of California, Irvine
San Joaquin High School
This case study centers on an active teaching game that simulates a cholera outbreak among five villages along a river, similar to the Haitian outbreak of 2010. By enacting the behaviors of fictional villagers, students learn how trade, travel, sanitation practices and geographic location contribute to the spread of diarrheal disease. Documenting various contamination events of village water supplies allows students to trace the progression of the disease and illustrates how adequate sanitation facilities provide protection against the bacteria Vibrio cholera. Originally designed for an undergraduate upper-division biology course focusing on the epidemiology of diseases, the simulation is also appropriate for microbiology and public health courses, as well as lower division undergraduate biology courses and high school. Biology or epidemiology components of the case study can be highlighted depending on the emphasis of the course being taught. The game can be completed within a 45- to 60-minute class period. Playing cards are available from the Supplemental Materials tab; detailed instructions are found in the teaching notes.
- Provide examples of human behaviors that promote the spread of diarrheal diseases.
- Understand how adequate sanitation protects against, and compromised sanitation facilitates, cholera outbreaks.
- Recognize how agriculture and human-livestock interactions contribute to the spread of cholera.
- Appreciate how geographic factors can influence the spread of cholera in humans.
- Understand the role of waterways in the spread of human disease.
- Describe how trade and travel influence the spread of direct contact diseases.
KeywordsCholera; Vibrio cholera; diarrheal disease; diarrhea; dysentery; waterborne disease; infectious disease; outbreak; bacteria; waste disposal; sanitation; disease spread; contamination; Haiti
Topical AreasRegulatory issues
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsAnalysis (Issues), Discussion, Role-Play
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Epidemiology | Medicine (General) | Microbiology | Public Health | Science (General) | Science Education |
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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.
The file below contains optional playing cards and printing instructions.