Reacting to Disease


Playing World of Warcraft
Kevin Buckstiegel, via Flickr

How would you react to a serious new disease in your community? Joshua Leo and Liz Waid look at how scientists are learning to predict and control reactions.

Transcript


Voice 1

Thank you for joining us for Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I’m Joshua Leo. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Imagine that you are sitting at home with your family. You are happily enjoying a meal together. Everything is perfect. Then, suddenly, there is an urgent news report on the television or on the radio. A deadly virus is quickly spreading through your community. The hospitals are filled with people suffering from common signs of the sickness: diarrhoea, fever, and vomiting. Many people have already died.

Voice 2

The news report goes on. It explains that the virus has spread beyond your community. It is affecting communities all over your country. Government officials are even afraid that it is spreading all over the world. Airports are forced to close. Airplanes are grounded. Nobody can enter or leave the country.

Voice 1

You look around at your family. They all seem healthy. But what are you going to do to keep them safe? How will you keep them healthy?

Voice 2

What would people do if they really were in this situation? How would they react to a quickly spreading virus? These are the questions that researchers wanted to answer.

Voice 1

Studying how people react to disease is difficult. Researchers cannot present a deadly virus into a real population of people. They cannot purposely make people sick, just to study them. That would be wrong. So, researchers have started using computer worlds to see how people would react.

Voice 2

To find out how people would react to disease, these researchers created a “virtual virus.” This virus became part of a popular Internet computer game called World of Warcraft. This game creates a new world, on the computer. People from all over the world play in this world. Many people play this virtual computer game. But, the people playing the game had never faced a deadly virus before. The virus could make a person’s player in the game sick.

Voice 1

In the game the virus had the name “corrupted blood.” The corrupted blood disease spread quickly. As the virus spread, it caused many interesting problems for the people playing the game. Many of the players died. But, before dying, these players reacted in many different ways. Researchers believe that the players’ reactions provide answers. These answers can show us how people may react in real life to a spreading virus.

Voice 2

So, how did the people playing the game react? Well, many players took measures to try to control the spread of the disease. They tried to keep the sick people separate from the healthy people.

Voice 1

Some players acted selflessly. They quickly aided other players who were sick. They helped others even though it meant they risked infection themselves.

Voice 2

Other players fled infected cities. They tried to save their own lives.

Voice 1

And some of the sick players tried to make other players sick, on purpose!

Voice 2

One researcher said this about the players of the game World of Warcraft:

Voice 3

“The players seemed to really feel they were at risk. And they took the danger of infection seriously, even though it was only a game.”

Voice 1

But the spread of disease is a serious matter. It is not just a game. In fact, in August of 2007, the World Health Organization put out a report. The report warned that infectious diseases are spreading faster than ever before. Scientists are discovering new diseases at an average rate of one each year. This is faster than at any other time in history. Since 1970, 39 new diseases have developed.

Voice 2

The World Health Organization believes that travelling is important to the spread of disease. There are just over two billion [2,000,000,000] people who travel each year. This makes it easy for diseases to spread across oceans in just hours, affecting more people. This is one reason why diseases like cholera, polio, the bird flu, and AIDS are such a threat to our world.

Voice 1

Researchers believe that understanding how people react to disease is important. They believe that human behaviour has an effect on the spread of disease. That is why they used the virtual game World of Warcraft. They think that using virtual worlds is one way to study real life human behaviour.

Voice 2

It can be difficult to stop the spread of disease. That is because there are many different ways that diseases spread. Diseases can pass from person to person, from animal to person, and from mother to unborn child. Some diseases can pass through the air from one person to another person. Other diseases can come from food that was not prepared well. Some diseases pass through body fluids. As you have heard, there are many ways that diseases spread.

Voice 1

But, the ways that humans react can help slow or even stop the spread of disease. The Mayo Clinic is a trusted resource for good health information. The Mayo Clinic’s website suggests the following ideas to help stop the spread of disease.

Voice 2

Wash your hands. This is especially important before and after preparing food, before eating, and after using the toilet. You may have heard some recent Spotlight programs about the correct way to wash your hands.

Voice 1

Get vaccinated. Vaccinations can reduce the risk of getting many diseases. These drugs have protected many people.

Voice 2

Use antibiotic medicine correctly. Antibiotics kill bacteria. But they only work when used correctly. Use them exactly as your doctor describes, even if you begin to feel better.

Voice 1

Stay at home if you have signs of an infection or feel sick. Do not go to work or school if you are vomiting, have diarrhoea, or have a fever.

Voice 2

Prepare food well. Keep table surfaces clean when preparing food. Store food in a cold place. Do not let food sit at room temperature because it will go bad.

Voice 1

Clean the rooms in your home that have a lot of bacteria. These rooms include the kitchen and the bathroom.

Voice 2

Always have safe sex. Be faithful to one person, or partner. If you cannot be faithful to one person, always use a condom. If you think that your partner is not faithful, be sure to use a condom. These rubber protective devices can protect you.

Voice 1

Do not share personal things. Use your own toothbrush and comb. Do not drink from another person’s drinking glass.

Voice 2

By following these ideas you can help keep yourself free from disease. You can also help keep the spread of disease low. Hopefully, the “corrupted blood disease” will remain just a computer game disease.

Voice 1

The writer of today’s program was Rebekah Schipper. Computer users can find more programs on our website at http://www.radio.english.net. The name of this program is “Reacting to Disease.”

Question:

How would you react to a serious new disease in your community?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
abozenka
said on December 03, 2012

Thank you,this is very important.

Long Pham's avatar
Long Pham
said on December 08, 2012

These virtual situations that were very important for many people to react the deadly diseases all over the world. They are to share information to prepare dealing with a spreading real diseases future. Before, help people have knowledge about spreading diseases and protecting our life.

Avatar Spotlight
PakaAnka
said on February 09, 2015

The diseases can be to prevent with healthy live, keep clean your home, preparing correctly the meal, make exercises,  etc.
Each people should care your body and is responsible for yourself.

Thank Spotlight, excellent program. See you soon.

JoaoVBR's avatar
JoaoVBR
said on April 14, 2015

We Always must to follow the advices of doctors about how to prevent and treat diseases. Many people forget this and make a treatment by theirselves, but they are totally wrong. Great program Spotlight.