West Nile Virus

People who get West Nile virus usually have been bitten by an infected mosquito. The mosquito typically has bitten an infected bird. The virus can lead to inflammation of the brain, which can be fatal. The virus has this effect in many bird species and in some mammals, including humans. The virus was first identified in the West Nile area of Uganda in the first half of the 20th century. It spread to parts of the Mediterranean and of Europe and turned up in North America in the late 1990s, killing many crows. In 2011, there were about 100 human cases in Canada, confined to Ontario and Quebec, although in previous years there have been human cases in other provinces. The key to fighting any disease is understanding its epidemiology, which often points to the most effective point of intervention. With infectious diseases, the aim often is to prevent an epidemic, and that often requires keeping the infection below some threshold in the infected populations. The articles below report the research of a group of mathematical biologists attempting to identify what that threshold might be for the West Nile virus, and in which infected population keeping the infection below the threshold is most important.

There are three versions of this research below. First, we refer you to the original published scientific paper. Then there is a Journalistic Reported Version (JRV), which adapts the original article into a popular format. This version can be found in the December 2004 issue of the journal Pi in the Sky. Those readers who have at least an introductory level of differential calculus are invited to explore more fully the mathematics that is contained in tables set aside from the main text. Finally, there is an Adapted Primary Literature version that attempts to keep the canonical form of the original articles while at the same time making it accessible to high school students who have had a course in introductory differential calculus. This version includes both an article portion, and a questionnaire.

We also make reference to research papers that have studied the effects of using APL to teach mathematical biology to high school students. The instruments that were used to study what students had learned from reading the pieces are included for your reference and use.