RIPR In The Classroom: Scurvy Cases Diagnosed in New England

Feb 17, 2017

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Story Synopsis

Credit Elisabeth Harrison

Scurvy is an ancient disease that used to be prevalent among sailors during long-distance sea travel. People need to eat food containing vitamin C to prevent scurvy, so it's rarely seen today because most people have a vitamin rich diet. But recently, cases of scurvy have appeared in some populations. Low-income men and people with mental health issues are especially at risk.

Scurvy is easy to treat, and eating more vitamin C is enough to reverse its effects. However, doctors often don’t think to look for scurvy, thinking it’s a disease from the Ancient Egyptians, not today. Listen to hear how doctors are helping their patients deal with the reappearance of this old illness.

Use with grades 6-9

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.3: Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

Listening Comprehension Questions
Assign these questions to your students or answer them together in a group.

  1. How is diet connected to scurvy?
  2. Why was scurvy common among sailors in the 1700s?
  3. Why are people who have mental health issues at a greater risk for scurvy?
  4. What are some of the symptoms and cures of scurvy?

Discussion Themes
Use these questions to get students thinking at the beginning of class. They can use evidence from the story to support their ideas during a class discussion.

  1. What are other reasons eating a variety of foods can help one’s health?
  2. What do you think can be done to inform people about the risks of scurvy?

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