Science & Technology in Action

5th Edition

Beating Mumps

Health Service Executive

Mumps is a very contagious disease; it can be spread by contact or by coughing/sneezing. Recent epidemics are directly attributable inadequate uptake of vaccination. Vaccination protects the individual and the wider community.
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Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.

Lesson excerpt

The Human Challenge
Since the beginning of time the human race has been threatened by disease, but it is only in relatively recent history that scientists have been able to isolate the causes of many diseases and develop the means of coping with them.

Also, in modern times, most countries have public health authorities who monitor world events and provide advance warnings of any infection that is likely to spread across countries. Such was not the case during the many outbreaks of influenzaand cholera in the 18th and 19th centuries when millions died. Neither were these services available in 1918 - 1919 when theSpanish flu resulted in millions of deaths.

The Invisible Threats
Two of the most common causes of human disease are bacteriaand viral infection.

Bacteria are unicellular living organisms about 1,000 nm (nanometres) long. This is about one eightieth the size of a human hair and cannot be seen by the naked eye. Most bacteriaare harmless and many are very beneficial. However, some can cause disease. One of the most common bacterial diseases today is tuberculosis (TB). In this lesson we will concentrate onviral infection because Irish schools and colleges have recently experienced major outbreaks of a well known viral disease called mumps.

What is a Virus?
The word virus comes from the Latin for toxic or poison. Viruses are very small, ranging from 20 to 250 nm in size. Nobody knew what a virus looked like until the invention of electron microscope in 1931. Currently, about 5,000 viruses have been identified but it is thought that most have not been discovered yet. The remarkable thing about them is that they can only reproduce inside a living cell (the host cell). When a virus invades a cell it uses the resources of the cell to produce more virus particles. Well known viral diseases are measles, mumps, flu and HIV. The study of viruses is a branch of microbiology called virology.

Quiz questions

  1. A virus cell is smaller than a bacteria cell. true
  2. Pandemic means ‘not very widespread’. false
  3. Mumps is a bacterial infection. false
  4. Only one dose of the MMR vaccine is recommended. false
  5. The study of viruses is called virology. true
  6. Vaccination introduces a weak live form of the virus to which the immune system responds. true
  7. Some vaccines contain only killed forms of a virus. true
  8. The NIO is responsible for managing national immunisation campaigns. true
  9. Mumps is a notifiable disease. true
  10. Everyone who has mumps shows the symptoms. false