Target Grade Level / Age Range

High School students: 15-18 year olds


55 minutes (not including set-up- 10 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.


  • Explain the 5 routes of disease transmission.
  • Give an example of a zoonotic disease that can be transmitted by each route.
  • Describe how influenza viruses are transmitted among animals and to humans.
  • Explain ways to prevent each route of transmission.


Disease Transmission and Biosecurity Activity Materials
Material Quantity
Glo Germ 1 container
Blacklight 1 large or 1 small per 15 participants
Stuffed Animal (pig, cow, etc.) 1 stuffed animal
Livestock Brush 1 brush
Popcorn 1 bag
Feed bags or buckets 2 bags or buckets

Suggested Companion Resources

Vocabulary (with definitions)

  • Aerosol/droplet transmission: Droplets containing pathogens travel through the air and are inhaled by another animal or human
  • Arthropod: Invertebrate animals including ticks, mosquitoes, flies and other insects
  • Direct contact transmission: Spread of pathogens through contact with an infected animal, its tissues, or its fluids by way of open wounds, mucous membranes (such as the lining of the digestive, respiratory, or urinary tracts), or scraped skin
  • Host: The animal or human that is exposed to and carries the disease
  • Indirect contact transmission: Spread of pathogens through coming into contact with areas where animals live and roam, or objects or surfaces contaminated by an infected animal
  • Ingestion (oral) transmission: Ingestion of pathogens from contaminated food, water, or by licking or chewing contaminated objects in the environment
  • Vector transmission: Transfer of a pathogen from an infected animal to another animal or a human by an insect

Background – Agricultural Connections

This lesson introduces the basic concepts and definitions important in disease transmission and prevention, with examples and an emphasis on influenza. While it is helpful to have students review lesson 1 of the “Bring Home the Blue, Not the Flu!” curriculum (either as classroom instruction or on their own using the online module), it is not required. 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

Begin the lesson with Disease Transmission and Biosecurity Activity. Allowing students to see the transmission of the Glo Germ powder will spark continuing conversation about transmitting disease, biosecurity, and zoonoses.


  1. Set up the classroom for the Disease Transmission and Biosecurity Activity.
    1. Sprinkle Glo Germ on the floor by the door.
    2. Prepare a feed bucket, popcorn, brush, and stuffed animal by sprinkling Glo Germ on the items.
    3. Set out blacklights and know where you will direct students to wash their hands. 
    4. A video tutorial is also available here:
  2. Welcome the students in the room. You can pass the stuffed animal around the room during roll call. To extend the activity for smaller groups, you could ask each student to name an item that they would bring to the fair or a show, or that might be found on the farm. After the activity and discussion, bring these items back up again as fomites that might spread disease if proper biosecurity is not followed.  
    1. Pass around the blacklights and instruct students to inspect the stuffed animal, other items, their hands, and the floor. Follow the instructions on the instructor’s guide.
    2. Facilitate discussion about the transmission of the Glo Germ on the bottom of shoes, hands, and items.
  3. Present the Lesson 2 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. Explain the 5 routes of disease transmission. (PowerPoint slide 5). Have students practice their knowledge with the Transmission Routes worksheet.
    3. Describe how influenza viruses are transmitted among animals and to humans. Explain ways to prevent each route of transmission.(slides 6-19 of PowerPoint). Facilitating discussion on preventing transmission of diseases can encourage students to connect the topic to personal experiences.
    4. Give an example of a zoonotic disease that can be transmitted by each route. (slide 20 of the PowerPoint)
  4. Distribute the Transmission Routes worksheet
    1. Encourage students to fill out the worksheet alone or in pairs.
    2. When they are finished, go through the worksheet as a large group and compare similar answers
  5. Facilitate discussion to allow students to connect personal experiences
    1. Ask students who live on farms how they would prevent disease transmission on their farm
    2. Ask students who don’t have a background in agriculture how they would prevent disease transmission in their home or in the school
  6. 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?

  • A host is a human or animal that is exposed to and carries the agent. Not all hosts show signs of illness (also known as asymptomatic).
  • There are 5 different routes of transmission of diseases – simply touching an animal does not mean you will become infected.

Extension Activities

The students can take what they learned and apply it to their own animals. They can better learn how to prevent each route of transmission on their farm, at a county fair, or while visiting other farms. Students can conduct further research on the five routes of transmission, as well as give presentations to 4-H clubs or FFA chapters.



  • Brittney Nelson, BS
  • Abbey Canon, DVM, MPH, DACVPM
  • Molly Lee, 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.
    • 21.9-12.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.