Target Grade Level / Age Range

High School students: 15-18 year olds


55 minutes (not including setup- 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. 


Describe Influenza A viruses of swine and how they can be transmitted among animals and to humans. 
Explain measures to protect swine from infection with influenza viruses. 
Identify the public health impacts of the H3N2v virus outbreak. 
Identify those persons most at risk for being infected with swine influenza A and those with the highest risk of complications. 
Explain the measures that humans can take to protect themselves from influenza A viruses of swine when on farms or attending animal exhibitions. 


Suggested Companion Resources 

Vocabulary (with definitions)

  • Clinical signs: Changes in an animal or person that may happen when they have a certain disease
  • Pandemic: Disease outbreak that occurs over a wide area and affects a large number of people
  • Reportable (notifiable) disease: Disease that must be reported to local, state, or federal health officials when diagnosed
  • Variant: Influenza viruses in humans that are normally found in swine

Background – Agricultural Connections

This lesson goes through a case study of an influenza A virus of swine outbreak in the US. While all information required to complete the case is provided within this lesson (lesson 5), having reviewed lessons 1, 2, and 3 of the “Bring Home the Blue, Not the Flu!” curriculum (either as classroom instruction or on their own using the online module), will provide further background, facilitate interactivity in the case study, and allow a more engaging and robust learning experience. 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

To give background on swine influenza, you can share this beginning information with students: “Influenza A of swine origin (IAV-S) can infect pigs, turkeys, ferrets, mink, and people. IAV-S is sometimes called “swine flu.” H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2 are some of the zoonotic subtypes of IAV-S.”

You can then ask students if they have heard of any influenza outbreaks in swine. 


  1. Present the Lesson 5 PowerPoint or online module to the class. 
    1. Describe Influenza A viruses of swine and how they can be transmitted among animals and to humans. (slides 4-12 of the PowerPoint)
    2. Identify those persons most at risk for being infected with swine influenza A and those with the highest risk of complications. (slide 15 of the PowerPoint) 
    3. Identify the public health impacts of the H3N2v virus outbreak. (slide 16 of the PowerPoint)
    4. Explain measures to protect swine from infection with influenza viruses. (slides 17 & 18 of the PowerPoint)
    5. Explain the measures that humans can take to protect themselves from influenza A viruses of swine when on farms or attending animal exhibitions. (slides 19 & 20 of the PowerPoint)
  2. Facilitate a classroom discussion on Influenza A viruses of swine.
    1. Have students discuss the different ways the disease could have spread from farm to farm, across state, lines, and even between countries.
    2. Students should think about how influenza affected county fairs and exhibitions.
  3. Facilitate discussion on the effect of Influenza A virus on markets and sales.
  4. Before class, prepare the materials and classroom for the Disease Transmission and Outbreak Investigation: Mucous Swap
    1. Number cups
    2. Number enough nametags to have one per participant and place with corresponding cup.
    3. Half fill up to 10% of cups with baking soda water. (E.g., if there are 10 participants, fill one cup with baking soda water; if there are 20 participants, fill two cups with baking soda water.) Make note of which cups contain baking soda water.
    4. Set a behavior card under each cup in the set with the numbered nametags.  Ensure the baking soda cup(s) is paired with a “Participates in multiple open, county, and state shows” card.
    5. Half fill the remaining cups with distilled water.
  5. Pass out worksheets and instructions to students. Explain the activity with the following: Some people are carriers of disease. Initially, these carriers may appear healthy or show only mild signs of disease.  At some point they may eventually get sick, but they may not be recognized as having the disease until they’ve exposed and infected others.  This is one reason why some pathogens can spread so quickly. This activity is designed to simulate the uncontrolled spread of a disease through a population.  Cups have been half-filled with water, except for one or two which contain baking soda water. The one or two people with the baking soda cups will be the original carriers of the “disease,” but they will carry this disease in a cup rather than in their body—and appear healthy on the outside. The original carrier(s) will make contact with other participants who will then make contact with others. At the end of the activity, everyone will be tested to see who has become infected, and we’ll discuss how to trace the infection back to its source. NOTE: We will be wearing nitrile gloves for this activity, but you still need to be careful with your cup and solution as we work through this portion of the activity. If you spill any on yourself, immediately go to a bathroom to wash it off. It may stain clothing. 
  6. Have students do the activity. A video tutorial is also available at: 
    1. Have participants pick up gloves, one cup, associated behavior card, and corresponding numbered sticker.
    2. Instruct participants to put on their numbered sticker and review their behavior card. Tell them that each fluid swap should occur with someone they haven’t swapped with previously.
    3. Ask participants to move about the room, during which time they should exchange fluids according to the instructions on their behavior card.
      1. To exchange fluids, one person will dump all of the contents of their cup into the other person’s cup.
      2. Return half of the solution back to the empty cup. (Demonstrate with two water cups.)
      3. Record the number of the person exchanged with.
    4. Participants should repeat step 3 as many times as specified on their behavior card. Remind participants that each swap should be with someone they haven’t already swapped with, and that they should only swap as many times as their behavior card indicates.
    5. When the swapping has finished, instruct participants to return to their desks with their cups.
    6. Have a group leader go around to all participants and add 2–3 drops of phenol red to each cup.
      1. A pink color change (bright or faint) indicates a positive result—this person is now considered “infected.” No color changes is “uninfected.”
      2. Discuss mild–severe infection and those at increased risk of severe complications (pregnant, very young or old, immunocompromised).
    7. After all testing is complete, participants should record their results and return their cups for disposal. 
  7. 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? 

  • Influenza viruses normally found in pigs are called “variant” viruses when they are found in people. Adding the letter “v” to the end of the virus subtype shows that it is a variant virus.
  • The H3N2v virus has an ability to change as it spreads, and it spreads very quickly from person-to-person. 

Extension Activities

Students can conduct more research on outbreaks of swine influenza and present it to the class or to a club. They can also work with their county fair or other exhibitions to ensure all pigs are staying healthy when attending shows. 



  • 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.
    • 21.0.12.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.