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Schools Mobilise Their Regions In Nation-wide Classroom Fight Against Flu

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Schools Mobilise Their Regions In Nation-wide Classroom Fight Against Flu

It's exactly one year since swine flu was deemed a global epidemic, and Kiwi children are brushing up on cold and flu hygiene in class and on-line. In a simple lesson created in New Zealand and now used as a health education template in Australia and the UK, children experience make-believe sneezes using water spray, simulate the spread of flu viruses with glitter 'high fives' (see photo), and view startling stats about flu on a website created by their contemporaries. Click on 'For Kids by Kids' at www.sneezesafe.co.nz

The 'attack rate' of the pandemic H1N1 virus is estimated to have been 30% for New Zealanders overall in 2009, according to Christchurch-based Associate Professor of Virology at Canterbury Health Dr Lance Jennings. He says children carry the biggest flu burden each winter, and are most vulnerable to the pandemic H1N1 virus.

Although the second H1N1 wave in the southern hemisphere is expected to be milder, Dr Jennings welcomes the return of the Kleenex SneezeSafe initiative for a sixth consecutive year in schools around the country.

Dr Jennings says: "Adults have a lifetime of residual resistance to different strains of influenza and vaccination support, but most children do not. And we know from years of survey data captured by Kleenex Tissues in New Zealand that the nation's standards of cold and flu hygiene are disappointingly low across all age-groups. Good respiratory hygiene is critical in a post-H1N1-pandemic environment, and especially in classrooms and playgrounds where children are learning and playing in close proximity," he says.

As an extra incentive for health classes in schools to join the battle to Beat the Bug this year, a $5000 prize is being offered by Kleenex Tissues to the class with the most inventive new way of delivering the Kleenex SneezeSafe message. Participating classes will upload video and post photos and outlines of their classroom activity on-line in the new 2010 Beat the Bug Classroom Challenge.

* Most New Zealand children have three to eight colds (some more than 12) a year and most adults have two to four. http://www.bpac.org.nz/resources/campaign/respiratory/respiratory_poem.asp?page=2 http://www.familydoctor.co.nz/index.asp?U=conditions&A=15367

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