What’s the Great Flu Experiment?
Science Matters would like to see how fast a ‘flu virus’ can travel throughout the world if it is passed from human to human. We can map Fred’s travels and the speed with which he reaches different areas. This may give us some indication of how fast a deadly strain of H5N1 may spread from in its initial source if it transfers to humans.
Find out more about the
Great Flu Experiment on our Message Board.
How does it work?
Fred is a green furry flu virus toy. He has a label in four languages which states his mission and contains a code number. If you see him then fill in our Contact form. You will input the date, the city and country and your entry will be pinpointed on the world map. Then pass him on to a friend, acquaintance or perfect stranger! Keep checking the website to see where else he pops up.
What is flu?
Flu (also known as influenza) is a disease of the lungs and upper airways caused by infection with a flu virus. The main symptoms are a high temperature that comes on quickly with general aches and pains. There is often a loss of appetite, nausea and a harsh dry cough. For most people symptoms peak after 2-3 days, and they begin to feel much better with-in 5-8 days, although a cough and general tiredness may last for 2- 3 weeks.
How is it spread?
The flu virus is usually spread in the small droplets of saliva coughed or sneezed into the atmosphere by an infected person. Direct contact with hands contaminated with the virus can also spread infection.
What is pandemic flu?
A pandemic is an epidemic of a disease that spreads quickly, and reaches many countries across the world. Pandemic influenza (flu) has symptoms that are similar to ordinary influenza, but they are more severe and can cause deaths.
What has bird flu got to do with it?
Avian influenza (or "bird flu") is a highly infectious disease affecting many species of birds, including chickens, duck, turkeys and geese. the type that is causing concern at the moment is the deadly strain H5N1.
The concern is that the H5N1 strain may undergo genetic changes making it able to spread easily from person to person. If these changes occur, then there would be a greater risk. For more details about Avian Flu and the Science of Flu http://www.synapses.co.uk/science/fluvirus.html
Fred the Flu on a beach in Ibiza
Send us a message
If you have found one of our 'flu viruses' then please send us a message using the form below. Alternatively, if you would like to make a comment about the experiment or about flu in general then we would love to hear from you.
If you have missed Fred Flu on his journey then don't worry, you can still get your own cuddly flu virus and many more with our range of Giant Microbes available in our online store
If you want more information on these topical issues or if you are looking for educational resources then checkout our Useful links section.