ASSIGNMENT: Zombies and Ebola are quite prevalent in popular media. Yet how do you know if the information you see, read, or hear is scientifically valid? Possibly the most important skill to take away from any introduction to science course is to be able to evaluate the source of information and determine if it is scientifically valid. Here we use media examples of zombies and Ebola and ask what you think about their validity.

In your response or this topic:

  • Choose either Zombies or Ebola.
  • Read/ watch the associated links below.
  • Provide your analysis of what you think is scientifically valid or in valid and why.

STUDENT 1 (kaila):I have been fascinated with the whole zombie movement since Walking Dead of course. Then I read the Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. Out of all the links I only find the two videos to be somewhat valid. Nat Geo Wild is a very well known source, I grew up watching that channel and still do. It has very fascinating stuff. With the snails that end up getting the parasites inside on the tentacles of them seems very zombie like. However, it’s not like they are out eating other snails as depicted in the movies we go out there. There end goal is to ultimately be eaten by the birds and then from what the video was stating the whole cycle begins again (2012). So maybe it is more like some crazy Star Trek or Supernatural episode, where they put the parasite in your ear and it controls everything you do. Any other sci fi geeks out there that get my reference? Now the caterpillar video is kind of odd. Seems almost like the snail video. Some parasite is using a host to get them to do what they want. It’s a little more zombie like in that they fight off others to protect the larvae. However, once again they are not really eating other things just fighting them off(New Scientists). Going off the abstract that the video contains as a reference they state that, “his hypothesis are scarce, and it is often unclear whether the host or the parasite profits from the behavioural changes, or even if parasitism is a cause or consequence of the behavior(Journals).” So we aren’t even sure if this is because of the parasites.

References

N. (2012, October 15). Zombie Snails | World’s Deadliest. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go_LIz7kTok&feature=youtu.be

Parasitoid Increases Survival of Its Pupae by Inducing Hosts to Fight Predators. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2017, from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0002276

Zombie caterpillars controlled by voodoo wasps. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2017, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14053-zombi…

STUDENT 2 (jessica): The outbreak of Ebola in Africa is receiving a lot of media attention. Of all the ideas and media reports, what seems scientifically valid to you and what seems exaggerated? Why? (Give specific links and examples of both scientifically valid information and exaggerated or even incorrect information from links below and those you find on your own.

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC Ebola virus is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. There are five identified Ebola virus species, four of which are known to cause disease in humans: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus); Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus); Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus); and Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus). The fifth, Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans.

Do we know its origin? There is no concise evidence of the nature. It is believed that the virus is animal-borne, maintained in an animal host and that originated in Africa

It is reported that Ebola virus is responsible for 100 deaths per year, whereas HIV virus is responsible for 3.1 million deaths in the same year (Incredible Viruses). So why is Ebola virus ranked number one scariest virus and not HIV, smallpox, flu or Rotavirus? The answer can be justified by not having scientific evidence of the origins of this virus. Fear of the unknown?

Ebola virus first recorded cases were in 1976 in the Republic of the Congo. Out of 318 cases, 280 resulted in deaths. “The Disease was spread by close personal contact and by use of contaminated needles and syringes in hospitals/clinics.” (CDC 2016)

The largest Ebola outbreak reported by the CDC was registered in March 2014-2016. The amount of 28,652 patients/ cases were confirmed and 11,325 deaths resulted from this outbreak. All the reported cases have two common factors: location and distribution. West Africa and medical personnel contact. I believe that this virus is highly publicized because it is uncommon and its origins are not scientifically proven. Evidence suggests that animal-to animal transmission must occur, animal-human and last human- to human. Alike West-Nile virus and Dengue virus this last one affecting over 50 million patients every year.

Works Cited

“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Outbreaks Chronology: Ebola Virus Disease.” April, 2016. Retrieved February 20,2017 from,

https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/history/chronology.html

“Incredible-viruses-on-earth/analise.dubner- n.d. The 13 Scariest Viruses on Earth Today.” Retrieved February 20,2017 From

http://www.ranker.com/list/the-top-13-most-incredible-viruses-on-earth/analise.dubner

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