Fight the Swine Flu from Your Computer

By: Christine Sumner

London (THE LOOP/AP) – The swine flu has provoked fear and cautious behaviors around the world, but now it has inspired a video game.

Dutch researchers have invented a new video game that allows the player to fight the spread of a new pandemic.

The game, “The Great Flu” was designed by Albert Osterhaus, head of virology at the Erasmus Medical Center, in hopes to raise awareness about pandemics. It can be played only online for free at www.thegreatflu.com.

The players begin the game as head of “World Pandemic Control” and are challenged to pick a strain of flu. From there, it is the player’s task to control the virus from spreading worldwide. To prevent a pandemic, the player must make decisions such as, stockpiling antivirals and vaccines, setting up surveillance systems, and closing transportation or schools. Players are only given a limited amount of funds and are cautioned that their “actions to control the virus cost money, so keep an eye on it.”

Within the game, newspapers follow the virus and give a fictitious world view on your process. Players also get updates from government agencies informing players on the range of political support from different regions.

Since April countries around the world have tried different methods to slow the swine flu and pharmaceutical companies hurry to produce a vaccination for the public.

Osterhaus said the video game’s take on controlling a pandemic by choosing different measures yet still watch it spread, gives people the sense of how hard it is to make decisions in the public health world.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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