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Students stage bio-terrorist simulation

The green glow on students' hands shown under a black light represents contamination. Carrie Snyder/The Forum1 / 2
West Fargo High School senior Ashley Reiter looks at Marisol Rios' hand during a bio-terriorism simulation at Cheney Middle School. Carrie Snyder/The Forum2 / 2

Students in Joan Baltezore's Microbiology classes at the West Fargo High School conducted an experiment last week to see how easily germs can spread into epidemic proportions. The students were bused to Cheney Middle School on Thursday, May 14, where they visited several classrooms to warn building occupants about a possible outbreak of a virus the microbiology students named "Eglowla." Students were reminded to wash their hands often to help prevent further spread of the virus. In preparation for the mock bio-terrorist attack, their instructor, Ms. Baltezore, had earlier spread invisible "Eglowla" germs on, and around a drinking fountain in a hallway with heavy daily student traffic.

Another group of WFHS students returned to Cheney Middle School Thursday afternoon to check to see how many students had been infected with the virus throughout the day. Each student's hands were checked with special hand-held lights to see if they had developed a rash of glowing spots on their skin. Records were kept to see how many students in each classroom were infected with Eglowla germs, and the results were reported back to Ms. Baltezore. Students then used the data to track the perimeter of the area where most cases seemed to originate to determine where the outbreak occurred.

Earlier in the week, a field epidemiologist from the State Health Department visited Ms. Baltezore's classroom to talk about how viruses are identified once they are detected and what can be done to prevent the further spread of viruses.