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Everyone knows that the “flu” is the worst part of winter. But how much do you really know about the dreaded flu?
Flu is caused by influenza virus, and there is a vaccine you can get before the flu season hits. You probably also heard about “swine flu” and “bird flu” in the news. Did you know that influenza also infects cats, dogs, horses and even seals and whales? How about the four types of influenza viruses, and that birds carry all sorts of flu, especially ducks?
We’re going to take a crash course on viruses and flu, just in time for winter – so that we can avoid getting sick of course!
The class will start with a basic explanation of viruses, before moving on to focus on influenza.
We will discuss the impact of influenza infections throughout history, from the “Spanish flu” pandemic, which killed over 20 million people between 1918-1920, to the 2009 “swine flu” that caused global panic. We will also discover the range of influenza viruses infecting humans, animals and birds. Plus how the spread of viruses between species can create new pandemic viruses.
We’ll round up by talking vaccines. Including, how the flu vaccine is made and why the yearly updates are required. Finally, we’ll look at some current research into the development of universal vaccines.
Dr Celeste Donato always had a particular fascination with weird and disgusting diseases, which naturally led to an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science and a PhD in Virology. After completing her first postdoc in Singapore, investigating emerging viruses in Southeast Asia, Celeste returned to Melbourne to research influenza viruses. Celeste has a passion for science communication and education. When she’s not in the lab or giving seminars, she enjoys travelling and indulging in her endless quest for the best sweet potato fries in Melbourne.
Questions about the class? Please email email@example.com.
The featured image is by James Gathany and is in the public domain.