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CDC Releases Graphic Novel About Variant Flu And Disease Detective Work

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released a graphic novel as a part of its efforts to educate the youth about public health science and associated careers. What is The Junior Disease Detectives: Operation Outbreak all about?

CDC Graphic Novel

When one thinks of the CDC, graphic novels aren’t really the first things that come to mind, but the agency has just released one that’s as informative and educational as it is timely. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the CDC developed The Junior Disease Detectives: Operation Outbreak, a graphic novel about four teenagers who attend a state fair and then later attends the agency’s Disease Detective Camp. However, one of the teens fall ill and it’s up to his peers to solve the mystery of his illness.

The graphic novel was developed as a part of the agency’s agenda to create educational activities for the youth, particularly in the topics of public health science, biology, epidemiology, outbreak investigations, and associated career skills. It is also a part of the CDC’s partnership with other agricultural agencies in hopes of raising awareness about zoonotic disease prevention and response. It can be downloaded on iBooks and through the CDC website.

Interestingly, the release of the graphic novel about an individual falling ill after attending a state fair is rather timely after several swine flu cases were recorded in relation to the California Mid-State Fair and the Fowlerville Family Fair in Michigan.

Variant Diseases

The Junior Disease Detectives: Operation Outbreak focuses primarily on variant influenza virus, an influenza strain that typically circulates in swine but not in people. However, as shown in the cases in California and Michigan, there are instances when the virus may be transmitted to humans in situations wherein there is close contact with an ill pig such as in county or state fairs.

To be clear, this type of flu is spread from pig to person through contact or inhalation of the virus in the environment, and not through eating pork. Further, person-to-person transmission is quite uncommon.

Although incidences of swine flu are considered uncommon, it remains to be an important public health issue, especially since the numbers of cases began to rise after 2012. Further, because pigs are actually susceptible to human, avian, and swine influenza viruses, it is possible for a pig to be infected with more than one type of influenza virus, thereby giving room for the development of a new virus.

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