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The Diagnosis and Transmission of SARS and MERS Coronaviruses


Samuel C. Cohler

University of California, Irvine
Dania V. Corrales

University of California, Irvine
Nicholas E. Kreusser

University of California, Irvine
Darin Ngo

University of California, Irvine
Rishi S. Gadepally

University of California, Irvine
Lesly I. Benitez

University of California, Irvine
Sarah Ahmad

University of California, Irvine
Janerys D.M. Munoz

University of California, Irvine
Andrea C. Nicholas
Department of Neurobiology and Behavior
University of California, Irvine


This case study uses a PowerPoint presentation to guide students through two activities designed to teach them about the basics of coronavirus diagnosis and transmission. The first activity involves a set of five “clicker questions” that students answer using either a personal response system, online polling application, or show of hands as they consider symptoms and test results of a hypothetical patient. The second activity is an outbreak simulation in which students consider the spread of a pathogen in various geographical settings and from different perspectives. Students work together to draft a list of precautions that could be taken to limit the spread of the disease and minimize healthy individuals’ risk of contracting it. The simulation is designed for a biology lesson pertaining to outbreaks. Although coronavirus is used as the model, the concepts of disease transmission and prevention covered in this case are relevant to many diseases.


  • Characterize the first cases of coronaviruses and their outbreak history.
  • Recognize the signs, symptoms, and tests required to diagnose for coronavirus.
  • Explain how coronavirus is spread by human contact.
  • Describe how a virus can “jump” between species.
  • Explain how hygiene measures can mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
  • Formulate proposals to respond to global outbreaks informed by the in-class simulation and presentation on the CDC’s methods.
  • Acknowledge difficulties of diagnosing viral diseases.


Coronavirus; SARS; MERS; outbreak; card game; simulation; diagnosis; transmission; risk factors;

Topical Areas


Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division


PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Clicker, Role-Play



Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Physiology  |   Science (General)  |  

Date Posted


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Kathleen Gelso
Misericordia University
How timely! The PowerPoint is excellent. Considering this case study for next week as my nursing students are not going to the hospital. I would like to pull in current literature to tie it together.