Understanding the outbreak of a virus

Patrick Blower

Patrick Blower

Because of the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus, first reported in Wuhan, China, we thought it might be helpful to gather some of our resources that offer valuable insights on topics being circulated in the news. For example, what defines a pandemic? How can viruses be transmitted from animals to humans? And exactly what is a virus?

How pandemics spread

Dig into the history of pandemics to learn how viruses and disease spreads and what we can do to stop future outbreaks.

In our increasingly globalized world, a single infected person can board a plane and spread a virus across continents. Mark Honigsbaum describes the history of pandemics and how that knowledge can help halt future outbreaks.

How do viruses jump from animals to humans

Discover the science of how viruses can jump from one species to another and the deadly epidemics that can result from these pathogens.

At a Maryland country fair in 2017, farmers reported feverish hogs with inflamed eyes and running snouts. While farmers worried about the pigs, the department of health was concerned about a group of sick fairgoers. Soon, 40 of these attendees would be diagnosed with swine flu. How can pathogens from one species infect another, and what makes this jump so dangerous? Ben Longdon explains.

The truth about bats

From plant pollination to pest control, explore how bats contribute to ecosystems and the importance of protecting bats to reduce the risk of transmitting disease.

What flies through the night, silently guarding and protecting our world from evil? Batman? Try… a bat. Like Batman, bats are widely misunderstood and vilified. Amy Wray disproves the myth that bats are dangerous villains and explains why they, instead, deserve a hero’s welcome — and our protection.

 How vaccines work

Learn the science behind how vaccines trigger an immune response and teach our bodies to recognize dangerous pathogens.

The first ever vaccine was created when Edward Jenner, an English physician and scientist, successfully injected small amounts of a cowpox virus into a young boy to protect him from the related (and deadly) smallpox virus. But how does this seemingly counterintuitive process work? Kelwalin Dhanasarnsombut details the science behind vaccines.