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AP Biology Lab
Spread of Epidemic Diseases
Through Viral Transmission
Viruses are obligate intracellular parasites consisting of nucleic acids and
enclosed in a protein capsid. This means the virus can only reproduce within a host
cell because the virus lacks metabolic enzymes and ribosomes for protein synthesis.
A virus infects a cell by releasing its viral DNA and capsid proteins. The hosts
enzymes are used to replicate the viral genome and to transcribe the viral genome
into viral mRNA to make more viral proteins. After the production of viral genomes
and protein capsids, the newly created virus particles exit the host cell and go on to
infect other host cells. The ongoing cycle of viruses infecting host cells to further
create more viruses leads to a viral infection. Then the host willgt spread the virus
to a new host.
Viral infections can be combatted with vaccines. Vaccines are created by
using weakened forms of specific viruses to activate the immune system in creating
defenses against the pathogens. Once the vaccine is accepted by the immune
system, the antigens create antibodies. Both memory cells and macrophages are
also released to act as part of the natural defense system. This gives the host
acquired immunity.
Throughout history epidemic diseases have spread rapidly and decimated
large populations of people. A disease can be classified as an epidemic specifically if
the disease exceeds the normal extent found within the population. The reason for
communicable diseases being so common is that viruses can spread easily through
contaminated water/food and low sanitation/hygiene standards. It can also be
spread through bodily fluids including blood, saliva, or mucus.
One type of an epidemic our world is currently facing is the Zika virus. This
disease is caused by the infected Aedes mosquito. The Zika virus causes a birth
defect called microcephaly. This condition causes the brain to be underdeveloped
and the head to be abnormally small. This lab portrays the spread of the Zika virus
in populations to determine the extent of the Zika virus and how vaccines affect the
spread of this epidemic disease.
We will be using the base NaOH to represent the population that when
infected show symptoms and the acid HCl to represent the population that when
infected show no symptoms. About 80% of the population infected with the Zika

virus shows no symptoms and will be represented by HCl. The 20% that can be
infected and show symptoms will be represented by NaOH. The infection will be
shown by adding phenolphthalein and in base will turn pink. The pink individuals are
those who were infected. Phenolphthalein in acid will not change color. The infected
(pink) will not in containment and the infection (phenolphthalein) cannot be put into
those well plates again. This means only healthy individuals can be infected. There
will be two mystery solutions that represent vaccine A and vaccine B. Vaccines can
only be administered to infected wells. One vaccine will work and the other will not
but it is important to choose randomly to represent the real world.

To explore the transmission of epidemic diseases in a large population
through acid-base reactions with an indicator
To analyze the benefits of innate and acquired immunity when
confronted with viruses
Determine the effects of vaccines on the population
Determine how different number of disease carriers can change the
total amount of new infections in the populations

4 Well Plates - 6 x 4
HCl Solution - 1M
Phenolphthalein - 0.5%
Adhesive Tape

Splash Goggles
Protective Gloves
NaOH Solution - 1M
4 Pipettes
Deionized Water

Safety Precautions
Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) can cause eye damage and skin burns if it comes in
contact. It may also be harmful if ingested due to its toxicity. Sodium hydroxide
(NaOH) is a skin irritant and should be treated with care. Phenolphthalein is
suspected of inducing genetic defects or causing infertility. It can also be
flammable and contains alcohol. It is important to wear goggles during this
laboratory experiment. Wear gloves to prevent all skin damage from splash with an
apron to protect clothes. Wash hands with soap after the laboratory and dispose of
solutions carefully and properly.

1. Begin the experiment by diluting the HCl and NaOH solutions with
deionized water until the 2M solutions are approximately 0.2M.
2. Put the individual pipettes in the HCl flask and the NaOH flask and the
phenolphthalein flask
3. Place the dry well plates on a table with white paper underneath
4. Pour HCl (5 drops) into around 80 of the wells to simulate the people
who do not experience symptoms to the Zika virus
5. Then, using another pipette, put 5 drops of NaOH into each of the
remaining well plates until all 100 wells are filled
6. Using the phenolphthalein, randomly choose well plates and add 1
drop of the solution into the wells - if the color changes, mark the well as one
infected person and if the color does not change then mark the well as a
healthy person
a. The well will turn pink if the solution inside is NaOH
b. The well will be clear if the solution inside is HCl
7. Repeat this for the remaining trials
a. Infect the population 20 times with the phenolphthalein
b. Infect the population 50 times with the phenolphthalein
c. Infect the population 100 times with the phenolphthalein
8. Count the total number of infected people for each trial
9. Choose one of the mystery vaccines, A or B, and choose one of the
pink infected individuals to vaccinate
a. The vaccine has a 50% success rate where the HCl will
make the solution clear and save the infected individual
b. The other vaccine is water and will not change the color of
the well indicating the individual is still infected
10.Then count the total number of infected after the population has been


Number of Individuals

Number of Individuals
who Contracted Disease

Number of Individuals
who had Natural


Number of Individuals who Chose

Vaccine A

Number of Individuals Cured After

Vaccine Treatment

Number of Individuals who Chose

Vaccine B

Number of Individuals for Whom the

Vaccine had No Effect Upon

Number of Individuals Bitten vs. Number of Infections

Number of Individuals Bitten vs. Number of Individuals Cured with