Infectious Diseases – How Do We Combat Them?

Huy Tu
Vermont 4-H
VTeen 4-H Science Pathways Cafe


In November, the VTeen 4-H Pathways Cafe welcomed Huy Tu, a PhD student at the UVM vaccine testing center, to speak about his work in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department. His research was focused on how humans develop defense and memory against Dengue and Zika infections. Combating these infectious diseases takes years and requires hundreds of scientists, clinicians, technicians, public health officials, and volunteers. In this Café we explored how to combat diseases; like how to identify the microbe that causes it, how to treat the individual, and developing strategies to protect the community.

Hands on Activity

Huy and his assistants set up seven different stations. Some of the stations were Field Biologists, Public Health, Vaccines, and Microbiology. He told us that a new disease was spreading through America and we had to try and figure out what it was and how we could stop it. He asked for some of the symptoms of the disease and some given were; Spontaneous combustion, Projectile Vomiting, organ failure, and osteoporosis. We were informed that the disease had origins in the southeastern United States. The field biologists ̈traveled ̈ to Florida and set up a lab. They looked for clues on what could be spreading the disease. From their research they deduced that fruit bats carried the disease. Whilst this was happening, the Microbiologist were analyzing the disease and the different strands of the disease and sending their results to the two Vaccine groups. The Public Health group put out a PSA informing everyone of new guidelines regarding the disease. The Vaccine Groups made antibodies out of pipe cleaner and beads. After everyone had finished their own tasks everyone came back together to see what we had learned about the disease. The two different Vaccine groups had tested there two different vaccines on monkeys and the results were positive but they were yet to try and test it on human subjects.

After every group had talked about what they did, some of us made antibodies whilst others made the disease itself with pipe cleaners and multi color beads. If the beads from the antibody matched the beads from the disease then disease was eradicated. No one matched since there was such a difference in the variety of beads.