Target Grade Level / Age Range

High School students: 15-18 year olds


45 minutes

Virtual Learning

An online course is available and created for middle-high school students (ages 13-18), available at This lesson plan is created using the information taught in the online courses. The website also contains additional supplemental resources that are available for educators. Hands-on activity guides with demo videos are available, as well as related resources. 


• Define zoonoses.
• Describe the importance of influenza and other zoonoses.
• Recognize common zoonotic diseases that might affect people and animals at fairs and exhibitions.
• Identify risk factors for zoonotic disease infection. 


Suggested Companion Resources 

Vocabulary (with definitions)

Emerging: A disease that has appeared in a population for the first time, or that had previously existed but is rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range
Endemic: A disease regularly found among a particular population or in a certain area
Zoonoses: Diseases that can be spread among animals and between animals and people 

Background – Agricultural Connections

This lesson introduces the basic concepts and definitions important in influenza, zoonoses, and disease risks. The content in the lesson emphasizes working and showing with animals, but any students with a general interest in agriculture, science, and/or health will find the lessons relatable and understandable. Whether on the farm, at a fair, or at home, the information presented within these courses—and the many supplemental resources we have developed to assist with implementation—can benefit youth with their current and future livestock projects, and contribute to their science and health education.

Interest Approach or Motivator

Before starting the lesson, ask students to define zoonoses, and then name examples of zoonoses. They can either make their own list or work as a class to make a list. 


  1. Ask students to define and name examples of zoonoses. Have them make a list individually or as a class. 
    1. Keep the list after they are finished to compare to the information that will be shared in the lesson. 
    2. Distribute the Comparison Chart worksheet – students should fill the worksheet out as the lesson is presented.
  2. Present the Lesson 1 PowerPoint or online module to the class, or allow students to work through the online module on their own or in groups.  
    1. The PowerPoint also includes slides notes to assist you in presenting the PowerPoint. 
    2. Objective 1: Define zoonoses (slide 5 of the PowerPoint)
    3. Objective 3: Recognize common zoonotic diseases that might affect people and animals at fairs and exhibitions. (slides 23-50 on the PowerPoint)
    4. Objective 4: Identify risk factors for zoonotic disease infection. (slides 14-22 on the PowerPoint)
    5. Ask the students how they might prevent each route of transmission 
  3. Review the Comparison Chart worksheet 
    1. Objective 2: Describe the importance of influenza and other zoonoses 
    2. Challenge students to relate each of the diseases to their own herd, if they have one, or a friend’s or school farm – what would happen if an outbreak occurred on that farm? How would it affect the production or future of the herd? 
  4. Distribute the Learning Objective worksheet
    1. This can be used as an exit card or end quiz for the day
    2. The learning objective worksheet can also be used as review of the objectives for the day. 

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)

Did you know? 

• Not all strains of avian influenza are zoonotic. Person-to-person transmission of avian influenza is possible, but very rare.
• Influenza viruses normally found in pigs are called “variant” viruses when they infect people. 

Extension Activities

The students can take the information they learned about zoonotic diseases and conduct further research on each of the diseases. They can also present the information to a 4-H club, FFA chapter, etc. to teach others about zoonotic and endemic diseases.


Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website. Biosecurity for birds. Available at:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Healthy pets healthy people. Available at: 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Influenza. Available at:
Center for Food Security and Public Health website. Available at:
National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians website. Animals in public settings compendium, 2013. Available at:
National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians website. Measures to minimize influenza transmission at swine exhibitions, 2018. Available at: 


Brittney Nelson, BS
Abbey Canon, DVM, MPH, DACVPM
Kristen Obbink, DVM, MPH, DACVPM

Organization Affiliation

Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University

National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes 

  • T1.9-12 c.: Discuss the scientific basis for regulating the movement of plants and animals worldwide to control for the spread of potentially harmful organisms (e.g., invasive species and disease causing organisms such as foot and mouth disease and avian and swine flu) as well as the methods of control in place (state, national, and international policies, economic incentives)
  • T5.9-12 a.: Communicate how the global agricultural economy and population influences the sustainability of communities and societies
  • T5.9-12 d.: Describe essential agricultural careers related to production, consumption, and regulation
  • T5.9-12 i.: Explain the role of government in the production, distribution, and consumption of food
  • T3.9-12 h.: Provide examples of foodborne contaminants, points of contamination, and the policies/agencies responsible for protecting the consumer
  • T2.9-12 a.: Compare and contrast the differences between nature’s plant and animal lifecycles with agricultural systems (e.g., producers manage the lifecycle of plants and animals to produce a product for consumption)
  • T2.9-12 c.: Discuss reasons for government’s involvement in agricultural production, processing, and distribution
  • T2.9-12 e.: Identify inspection processes associated with food safety regulations

Iowa Core Standards

  • Health Literacy
    • 21.9-12.HL.1. Demonstrate functional health literacy skills to obtain, interpret, understand and use basic health concepts to enhance personal, family, and community health.
    • 21.9-12.HL.2. Synthesize interactive literacy and social skills to establish and monitor personal, family and community goals related to all aspects of health.
    • 21.9-12.HL.3. Apply critical literacy/thinking skills related to personal, family and community wellness.
    • 21.0.12.HL.5. Demonstrate behaviors that foster healthy, active lifestyles for individuals and the benefit of society.
  • Science
    • HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
    • HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
    • HS-ETS1-4. Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.