BY BILL FERRIS

During a recent flu outbreak, I only let 1400 people die. Go me!

I’ve just played The Great Flu, an online game designed to teach people about flu pandemics and how to control them. Your task: try to control a flu pandemic somewhere in the world. At your disposal: an array of tools and tactics such as distributing facemasks, stockpiling “wild guess” vaccines that may or may not help, informing the populace, and extremes such as shutting down airports and isolating victims. Every measure you take costs money, and if you pony up funds for improved health care in China, you’ll have to spend it again if the flu migrates across the border to India.

The game sends you updates about the virus, as well as missives from health ministries from various countries. Throughout the game, there’s a scoreboard showing the number of infections and the number of deaths. If you’re teaching young learners, gently remind them that a high score is not a good thing in this game.

The Great Flu is a fun activity, and timely, given the fuss over H1N1 lately. This is one game to show to your students to give them perspective on what it takes to shut down a disease — that is, if the Swine Flu hasn’t already shut down your school.

The Great Flu

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