The Go Noroviral Experiment: An Interactive Citizen Science Teaching Tool for Modeling Norovirus Transmission

Elizabeth S. Bradshaw, Rebecca M. Goulter, Benjamin Chapman, Lee-Ann Jaykus

Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 240-246, Jul 2017

Volume 37, Issue 4: Pages 240–246

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Human noroviruses are a frequent cause of foodborne illness, although they are most commonly transmitted via person-to-person contact. Here we describe a citizen science experiment performed at a large international food safety conference, where attendees participated in a mock norovirus outbreak that stemmed from one ‘infected’ person attending a reception. The “infection” was then visibly and physically transmitted to others, with individually numbered buttons representing the virus. The button numbers as well as other data provided by the participants were used in standard epidemiological analyses to track and measure the scope of the outbreak, which was presented for the educational benefit of the participants. A novel feature of the experimental design is that the mock outbreak evolved on the basis of the actions of the participants; therefore, each time the exercise is performed, the results would be unique. Based on successful proof of concept, this interactive tool can be used by schools, exhibitors, and other educational groups to illustrate personto- person transmission of infectious agents and the common formats for displaying and interpreting epidemiological data.

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