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Re: [Channel-talkbio] Emerging Infectious Diseases

From: Karen Blaustein <kblaustein@haverhill-ps.org>
Date: Thu Feb 01 2007 - 14:36:56 EST

It is amazing to me how extraordinary microbes are at surviving and
reproducing as compared to the human population. Pathogens have the
ability to quickly mutate and change in order to survive. They are able
to kill millions of people every year. Although we have been able to
control some pathogens since our understanding of microbes and their
associated genetic codes has increased dramatically over the past few
decades, we still have a long way to go. Due to their tremendous
capabilities, new strains are emerging and other strains are
re-emerging. Accordingly, our task of eradicating pathogens may never
totally be achieved. However, looking back over the progress we have
made, we have done a great job saving the lives of many people using our
ability to educate the public and our knowlege and use of genetics and
medicine.
We do need to continue and do a better job educating our youth and the
general population about microbes. I would say that a majority of the
population does not understand the use of antibiotics. Furthermore,
they are unaware that antibiotics are only effective against bacteria
and not viruses. Likewise, as Mary pointed out many people are unaware
of the symptoms of some diseases such as Lyme disease and therefore
harbor the disease for a long period of time causing permanent damage to
their bodies.
Let us hope that we continue to learn more and use this knowledge so we
can prevent future epidemics or pandemics from pathogens. Similarly, we
need to continue the fight against malaria and other diseases that kill
millions of people every year.

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of Mary Johnston
Sent: Tue 1/30/2007 7:52 AM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Emerging Infectious Diseases

I have found this unit on emerging infectious diseases to be quite
interesting and disturbing as well. While analyzing the various
possible outbreaks and the potential horrific results that a pandemic
could produce is really a cold dose of reality. Diseases ranging from
Avian Bird Flu to Hanta Virus to SARS to Ebola to HIV to cholera have
the potential to take hold and produce disastrous results almost
anywhere in the world. This is the result of many causative factors
including rapid population growth, lack of sanitary conditions in many
places, contaminated drinking sources, close living quarters, lack of
immunization against preventable diseases, human occupation of remote
regions, increased global travel as we convert to a global economy, poor
medical care, antibiotic resistance, contact with animals or insects
that spread disease, and lack of knowledge about disease prevention. It
is particularly scary to think that different strains of a disease could
infect the same host (like a bird or pig) and then mutate into a more
potent strain that could have the potential to infect human hosts and be
spread by person to person contact. There have been minor outbreaks of
some diseases like Ebola in Zaire and Hanta virus in Texas, but I fear
it is only a matter of time before we have a much bigger pandemic
similar to the Spanish Flu or Hong Kong Flu that are discussed in the
online text.
      I think that the government needs to take a more active role in
preparation for such an event and really educate people about how they
should respond during such a crisis. People took some precautions about
terrorism after 911, but the preparedness has since died down and people
are becoming complacent again. The risk of an incident due to a
sickness like SARS is as much or more of a threat than terrorism.
Communities need to outline how they will isolate the cause of an
outbreak, treat potential victims, and still protect the general public.
On a personal note, citizens like myself should have a designated
meeting place, disaster kit, and emergency strategy just in case of a
problem.
        In addition, we need to focus more on diseases that are not
spread by person to person contact but by animals and insects. For
example, three people that I know have been diagnosed with having Lyme
disease this year alone. That is quite a high percentage. People must
be educated on how to protect themselves against the ticks that harbor
the disease and then how to recognize symptoms so that no permanent
damage is done. Often people with Lyme disease wait too long to seek
treatment and irreparable nerve damage is done.
        In the Northeast particularly, it seems that mosquitoes (West
Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis) as well as ticks (Lyme disease)
are more of a threat than ever before. Pesticides and sparying help,
but it is education of the general public that I believe will save the
most lives. How do others feel?
Mary Johnston

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of
channel-talkbio-request@learner.org
Sent: Wed 1/24/2007 12:00 PM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Channel-talkbio Digest, Vol 5, Issue 9

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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: Channel-talkbio Digest, Vol 5, Issue 7 (Karen Blaustein)

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Message: 1
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 10:22:23 -0500
From: "Karen Blaustein" <kblaustein@haverhill-ps.org>
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Channel-talkbio Digest, Vol 5, Issue 7
To: "Discussion list for REDISCOVERING BIOLOGY"
        <channel-talkbio@learner.org>
Message-ID:

<69BB75AAB563AB418EEB93D45855D87D0196E2C0@hps-mail.haverhill-ps.org>

Hi Mary,
I do not have any cladogram activiities. However, I use dichotomous
keys to give students the opportunity to use their analytical skills. I
have a dichotomous key activity using the kingdoms of life. Students
find or draw pictures of the 6 kingdoms and write a dichotomous key to
determine which kingdom the organism belongs to. I find that many
students have a difficult time with writing their own key. Accordingly,
for the comprehensive students I write the key and have them fill in the
blanks. I give extra points to the college prep students for making an
original key. Most of the honors students can be creative with the key
that they write.

Karen

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of Mary Johnston
Sent: Fri 1/19/2007 1:33 PM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Channel-talkbio Digest, Vol 5, Issue 7

Dear Karen,
   I was also intrigued by this because the descendence from the
mesonichids was the prevailing hypothesis in the whale evolution debate
for some time. This was based on some fossil evidence. Now molecular
evidence links the whales to artiodactyls instead. ALso I believe the
video contained some fossil evidence thas was based on the ankle bones
of the different groups. Ankle bone comparisons linked the whales more
closely with the artiodactyls than with the mesonichids. In terms of
phylogeny, I think it is clear that relationships between organisms are
most clearly explained when you examine BOTH fossil evidence as well as
molecular (DNA) evidence.
   I do several fossil comparisons when I cover evolution. Do you have
any cladogram activities?
Mary

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of
channel-talkbio-request@learner.org
Sent: Fri 1/19/2007 12:01 PM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Channel-talkbio Digest, Vol 5, Issue 7

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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: cladograms (Karen Blaustein)

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Message: 1
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007 07:42:31 -0500
From: "Karen Blaustein" <kblaustein@haverhill-ps.org>
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] cladograms
To: "Discussion list for REDISCOVERING BIOLOGY"
        <channel-talkbio@learner.org>
Message-ID:

<69BB75AAB563AB418EEB93D45855D87D0196E2B8@hps-mail.haverhill-ps.org>

I am glad you brought this subject up on channel talk. I was surprised
to learn about this new evidence concerning whales. I had also thought
that the ancestor to whales were the mesonichids. I have a wonderful
PBS movie called Great Transformations, which is one video in a set
called Evolution. This video discussed the belief that whales descended
from a wolf-like creature (mesonichids). Scientists found skeletons in
a desert area that once was part of the a sea (I think the
Mediterranean). By analyzing the skull, specifically the ear bone,
scientists were able to determine that this wolf-like creature had the
same structure as a whale. This structure is only inherent in whales
and therefore had concluded that whales descended from this four legged
animal. This video was obviously made before they used the DNA analysis
to determine that whales most likely descended from the artidactyls.
The scientist in the Rediscovering Biology video who was shocked by the
DNA analysis was the same scientist in the Great Transformation video. I
show this video and as a followup activity I have a group of pictures
that show the physical evolution of whales (from fossils evidence) and
have the students put them in order from oldest to most recent.

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of Mary Johnston
Sent: Wed 1/17/2007 2:13 PM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] cladograms

I found it quite interesting that scientists now believe that whales are
related to the artidactyls and not the mesonichids as many originally
thought. This also showed that phenotypic evidence (from ankle bone
comparisons) is used in conjunction with molecular evidence (from DNA
comparisons) to trace an organism's phylogeny is the favored approach.
I definitely see the value of cladograms in showing the relatedness of
organisms to each other. I am just curious as to how deeply other
biology teachers delve into this topic. It is quite complex and we are
limited in time. I have a simple cladogram activity that I use, but it
does not go into great detail. How do other biology teachers teach this
subject?
Mary Johnston

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of
channel-talkbio-request@learner.org
Sent: Tue 1/9/2007 12:00 PM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Channel-talkbio Digest, Vol 5, Issue 5

Send Channel-talkbio mailing list submissions to
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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: Genetic Database (Karen Blaustein)

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Message: 1
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2007 14:35:36 -0500
From: "Karen Blaustein" <kblaustein@haverhill-ps.org>
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Genetic Database
To: "Discussion list for REDISCOVERING BIOLOGY"
        <channel-talkbio@learner.org>
Message-ID:

<69BB75AAB563AB418EEB93D45855D87D0196E2B5@hps-mail.haverhill-ps.org>

Sure. Thanks for the complement.
-Karen

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of Quentin Cartier
Sent: Fri 1/5/2007 10:45 AM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Genetic Database

Well said. I would like to use your letter to stimulate a discussion on
these topics with my biology classes. Would you be okay with that?

Mr. Quentin Cartier
Biology, Honor Bio, Comp Sci
cartier@ahs.k12.wi.us
Arrowhead High School
262-369-3611 x 1201
>>> "Karen Blaustein" <kblaustein@haverhill-ps.org> 01/04/07 1:47 PM >>>
The concept of a genetic database is very controversial because there
are many pros and cons to each side of the issue. On the positive side,
a genetic database on criminals could help law enforcement officials
track down and convict those individuals that have committed serious
crimes against humanity. Similarly, the database containing genetic
information can overturn judgements or help exonerate individuals that
were wrongly convicted or accused of a crime. However, what individuals
should have to submit to giving their genetic information to the
authorities? Would it only be those individuals who committed a serious
crime and convicted? Or would it be any person would was accused of a
crime, even a misdemeanor? One idea that might be feasable that was
mentioned in the Genomics On-line textbook by Sir Alec Jeffreys. He is
the scientist that first developed genetic fingerprinting in Great
Britain. He suggests "that the actual identity of each individual be
kept in a separate database with high security. Only certain
circumstances, such as a link to a crime, would justify identification
of the individual".
Of course, the cons to genetic databases include the invasion of
privacy. I think the majority of the population should have a choice on
whether they want to know if they have inherited a genetic disorder that
could shorten their life. Also, it is important that insurance
companies cannot use genetic information to deny, charge extra fees or
cancel health or life insurance policies.
In summary, I think that we should take this issue very seriously and
begin to discuss legal regulations that control the possible problems
that could develop as our technology increases.

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of Mary Johnston
Sent: Wed 1/3/2007 12:27 PM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: [Channel-talkbio] Genetic Database

I am just trying to see how others feel about this ludicrous idea of a
genetic database? I think this is a total invasion of privacy. If we
get to the point where human beings are nothing more than an aggregate
of chromosomes somewhere in a computer file, then I think we are all in
trouble as a society. I can see a lot of discrimination potentially
coming out of this. Maybe an employer won't hire someone with a genetic
predisposition for breast cancer. Maybe, insurance companies will
somehow get access to the information and raise premiums on "high risk"
people. Maybe someone will try and clone someone they are obsessed with
or stalking like a movie star. Of course, these are extreme examples,
but fundamentally I think that we should act now to pass legislation to
prevent things like this from happening in the U.S. As it is people are
stealing identities left and right using basic info. We are leaving
ourselves open to the most personal invasion there is-our very DNA
itself. I for one do not want all my genes catalogued for people to
study. If some people want to volunteer and do it then that is their
choice, but I think a national database of each person's genes is a
really bad idea. What do others think?

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Received on Thu Feb 1 16:31:25 2007

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