The year was 1968 and a category 2 flu pandemic swept across the world, killing more than 1 million people, including 500,000 in its origin city of Hong Kong.
Similar flu pandemics took place in the 1950s, killing millions as the disease with a relatively low mortality rate, spread quickly around the globe.
It’s those types of incidents — the spreading of infectious diseases — that’s the topic of one of the newest exhibits at The Health Museum. In partnership with The Smithsonian Institution, the Houston museum presents, “Outbreak, Epidemics in the Connected World.”
You and your family will explore disease case studies, hear personal stories from epidemic-fighters from around the world, and take part in an interactive game where you’re tasked with containing an outbreak.
The special exhibit went live at the beginning of October and runs for the next six months. The museum is celebrating its 50th year of educating the public this year.
The museum, located at 1515 Hermann Drive in Houston, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Members get access for free; non-members are only $10. If you’re looking to save some money, take your kids on “Free Family Thursday,” which runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Thursday. Parking is $5 for nonmembers ($3 for members).
The idea for the exhibit, which is also being shown in Washington, D.C., actually came in 2014 during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The goal is explain to kids — and adults — that humans, animals, and bacteria are all connected. Exhibit organizers also hope kids learn that to control an epidemic, it takes teamwork and collaboration.
In Houston, the exhibit will highlight and educate on the polio outbreak in the Houston area, the Bubonic plague in Galveston and the HIV/AIDS epidemic throughout the region.
“People are interacting and actually enjoying the experience of learning about it and feel empowered by the information they are getting,” Sabrina Sholts, Ph.D., curator of biological anthropology at NMNH, told TMC News. “We give them action items. We point to ways that we, as communities and individuals, can stop the spread of infectious disease.”
For more information, visit the museum’s website or call 713-521-1515.
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