Genome sequences from California and Texas isolates of the H1N1 swine flu are already available for exploration at the NCBI. Let's do a bit of digital biology and see what we can learn.
Activity 1. What kinds of animals get the flu?
For the past few years we've been worrying about avian (bird). Now, we're hearing about swine (pig) flu.
All of this news might you wonder just who gets the flu besides pigs, birds, and humans. We can find out by looking at the data.
Over the past few years, researchers have been sequencing influenza genomes and depositing those genomes in public databases. They also supply information about the kind of creature that was infected.
We can learn about the creatures that get the flu pretty easily because of these data.
Let's begin by going to the NCBI Influenza Virus resource (this will open in a new window).
Notice the box that says "Host"
Scroll through the list and you'll see all the creatures that have served as a source of influenza strains.
That's activity 1. We'll have more fun later.
Ha! I'm looking forward to the day when headlines shout "Whale Virus Attacks Seattle"
You may joke, but as I was waking up this morning, I heard the announcer on the radio say that they found a dead gray whale floating a few miles away near Camano Island.
I don't know why it died, though. :-(