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CNN Student News Learning Activity: H1N1 Virus

  • Story Highlights
  • Learn about the H1N1 virus and how it is spread
  • Research why officials are concerned about a possible H1N1 flu pandemic
  • Identify measures taken by health authorities to prevent flu outbreaks
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(CNN Student News) -- Students will learn about the H1N1 virus (commonly known as swine flu) and research why officials are concerned about the H1N1 pandemic. Students will also learn about the measures that are being taken by international, federal and local health authorities to prevent the spread of colds and the flu and a possible outbreak of influenza.


Direct student groups to the resources provided to learn about the origin, symptoms, transmission and status of the H1N1 strain of flu. Pose the following questions to guide students' research:

  • What is H1N1?
  • How is it transmitted?
  • How can people become infected?
  • In which countries have human cases of the H1N1 virus occurred?
  • What actions have international, federal and local authorities taken in response to the flu outbreak?
  • What is the difference between a flu epidemic and a flu pandemic?
  • Why is the H1N1 strain of influenza of great concern to some health officials?
  • What drugs are available for treatment?
  • What is the status of vaccine development and production concerning the H1N1 virus?
  • Have groups share their findings with the class. After the discussion, instruct students to contact the Department of Health in their state to learn about the measures that the agency is taking to prevent the spread of colds and influenza. Have them find out whether the agency has an established plan to deal with a possible outbreak of influenza. If the Department of Health does have an influenza preparedness plan, have students identify its different components, such as:

  • the specific public health issues addressed,
  • the participating government agencies and the extent of their involvement,
  • how communication among these agencies, and between the government and the public, would occur in the event of a crisis.
  • After groups share their research, ask students to imagine that they are in charge of their state's Department of Health, and pose the following question for class discussion: Based on what you know about the current status of the H1N1 flu and the available resources in your state, what plans might you put in place to prevent the spread of flu or to deal with a possible outbreak?

    Correlated Standards


    Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

    As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop an understanding of:

    • Personal and community health

    • Science and technology in local, national, and global challenges

    The National Science Education Standards ( are published by the National Academies Press (


    H1N1 virus, outbreak, pandemic, preparedness plan, Department of Health

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