Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond


Over the last few decades, diseases that spill over from animals to humans have been on the rise. Learn what's behind the increase, and what we might be able to do to fight these dangerous diseases. Join scientists as they investigate the rise of spillover viruses like Zika, Ebola, and Nipah, and see what doctors and scientists are doing to anticipate and prevent epidemics around the world.

In this collection, explore video clips from Spillover - Ebola, Zika & Beyond that detail how these animal-borne viruses get their start, spread, and are eventually controlled. Watch a special interview with virus hunter Jon Epstein, to learn about his work chasing the viruses that may cause outbreak of infectious disease. Watch the full program in a series of ten chapters clips, or in its entirety.

  • Zika: An Emerging Virus in Brazil | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond

    Early in 2015, Brazilians began to contract Zika, a virus transmitted by mosquitos. Soon after, epidemiologists noticed an uptick in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a severe birth defect. Were the two related? See how epidemiologists studied the unfolding outbreak to determine if Zika was responsible for the babies born with microcephaly.

    Grades: 6-12
  • One Man's Story of Having Ebola | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond

    Alhassan Kemokai caught Ebola when he was caring for his mother. This video clip describes how Ebola passes from person to person, how it replicates inside the body, and how it causes disease and often death in its human victims.

    Grades: 6-12
  • How Nigeria Stopped Ebola | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond

    During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, epidemiologists and contact tracers stopped a potential disaster in Nigeria. A man infected with Ebola flew to Lagos, the largest city in Africa. His arrival kicked off a chain of infection in that country, but by finding and monitoring contacts, health care workers were able to keep the cases from spiraling out of control.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Virus Hunter: Dr. Jon Epstein | HHMI BioInteractive

    Jon Epstein is a virus hunter - he chases viruses that can cause outbreaks of infectious disease. Follow Jon as he hunts the path of the Nipah virus from fruit bats to humans in Bangladesh.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Introduction to an Epidemic | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 1

    Learn about Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that hit Brazil in 2015. Over the last few decades, diseases that spill over from animals to humans have been on the rise. Soon after the onset of Zika, epidemiologists noticed an uptick in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a severe birth defect affecting the head. Were the two related? See how epidemiologists studied the unfolding outbreak to determine Zika's origins, and also to determine if the virus was responsible for the babies born with microcephaly.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Ebola Invades | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 2

    Learn about Ebola, a virus was first recognized in Zaire in 1976, transmitted by person-to-person contact and causing isolated outbreaks. An unexpected and large outbreak occurred in 2014 in West Africa, a region that had not experienced the disease before.

    Grades: 6-12
  • What Are Viruses? | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 3

    Explore how viruses grow and spread, starting first with a host organism. The more species a single virus can occupy, the more likely it is to last into the future. The strain of Ebola that terrorized West Africa does an especially effective job of infecting the human body.

    Grades: 6-12
  • How Ebola Kills | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 4

    Meet Alhassan Kemokai, an Ebola virus survivor from Sierra Leone, as he tells the story of his battle with the brutal disease. Kemokai caught Ebola while caring for his mother when she contracted the virus. For this reason, some call Ebola a disease of love: it transmits while people care for their ailing loved ones. 

    Grades: 6-12
  • Contact Tracing | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 5

    Find out why contact tracing is such a crucial part of controlling outbreaks of infectious disease. Tracing back to patient zero during the West African Ebola outbreak shed light on Ebola's zoonotic origins and rapid spread. Contact tracing revealed that one initial "spillover" event—contact between a Guinean child and a bat in 2015—resulted in the largest Ebola outbreak the world had ever seen.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Zika Transmission | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 6

    Zika, unlike Ebola, is less commonly spread by human-to-human contact. Instead, mosquitos are the root cause. Brazil has recently implemented mosquito controls to prevent the transmission several of viral diseases, including Zika. As the world's population grows and spreads geographically, human interaction with new wildlife opens up greater opportunity for zoonotic disease to spread.

    Grades: 6-12
  • A New Foe Emerges - Nipah | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 7

    In 1988 Southeast Asia faced it's own battle with Nipah, a fruit bat-borne disease that kills more than three quarters of those infected. Nipah is only contracted in Bangladesh between the months of December and March, and this was a puzzle at first. It turns out that it is during these months that date palm sap, a national delicacy, is collected. Fruit bats, too, drink this sap, and the sap is thus the vehicle of Nipah transmission. Jonathan Epstein monitors bats in Bangladesh in an effort to prevent Nipah from becoming a global pandemic.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Dodging Bullets | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 8

    The highly contagious and pandemic nature of Ebola was exposed in 2014, when an infected US diplomat flew from Liberia to Nigeria, exposing dozens of passerby and doctors along the way. Contact tracing and quarantine can contain an outbreak, but not before lives are lost in the course of getting these procedures in place. An army of contact tracers in Lagos sprung into action and prevented the outbreak from becoming a global catastophe.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The PREDICT Project | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 9

    See Jonna Mazet's innovative PREDICT Project in action. PREDICT is a worldwide effort to use animal surveillance to monitor viruses, proactively preventing and containing outbreaks of infectious disease by identitifying points of contamination early on.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Next Outbreak? | Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond: Part 10

    As global populations continue to grow and spread, strong healthcare systems are critical to disease prevention. OXITEC is a biotechnology company that has released a genetically modified mosquito in hopes of reducing the spread of Zika virus. At Connaught Hosipital in Sierra Leone, a much-anticipated trial Ebola virus vaccine is now available. 

    Grades: 6-12
  • Spillover - Zika, Ebola & Beyond | Full Program

    Over the last few decades, diseases that spill over from animals to humans have been on the rise. Learn what's behind the increase, and what we can do to fight these dangerous diseases. Join scientists as they investigate the rise of spillover viruses like Zika, Ebola, and Nipah, and see what scientists are doing to anticipate and prevent epidemics around the world.

    Grades: 6-12

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