New online learning tool launched to help kids protect themselves from infections
3 September 2009
School children across England and Europe can now learn about protecting themselves from swine flu and other infections, following today's launch of an education programme and interactive website by the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
e-Bug is made up of educational activities for primary and secondary school-age children, complemented by online games, on microbes, hygiene, antibiotic use and vaccines. The programme features age-appropriate animated characters and cartoon microbes; and lesson plans and materials for teachers. Topics include hygiene measures to stop the spread of swine flu and other respiratory infections.
The programme also educates children - our future generation of antibiotic users - on the importance of the prudent use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are currently the most common medicines given to children, and increased antibiotic use is linked to increased resistance.
e-Bug was developed by a team of healthcare experts at the HPA's Primary Care Unit, Gloucester, after research in English and European schools found teaching about antibiotics and resistance varied widely. This research also found that the majority of hand hygiene campaigns were targeted towards adults, with few school-based resources available for children.
Eighteen European countries assisted the HPA with the development of e-Bug: ten are immediately implementing e-Bug as part of the junior and senior school curriculum, or making it available to schools; and eight plan to roll it out in the future. e-Bug will be available as a resource for all English junior and secondary schools from this month.
The HPA's Dr Cliodna McNulty, who led on the development of e-Bug, said:
"With the current swine flu epidemic as well as seasonal flu, we have seen how children are not only more susceptible to acquiring viruses, but are also more infectious to others. Since many swine flu cases have been centred around school outbreaks, the implementation of e-Bug in schools this autumn is particularly timely.
"e-Bug provides practical information on these topics in a fun, hands-on way; which means children are more likely to retain and use what they learn."
The HPA's Chairman, Dr David Heymann, said: "A key role of the HPA is to provide advice and information on issues of public health to specific audiences, so I'm delighted that one of our units has led on the development of this interactive tool for schools.
"I am also very pleased that we have been able to collaborate with schools in so many EU countries in developing e-Bug. Working across national boundaries is crucial if we are to tackle pressing global health issues, such as the spread of swine flu and antibiotic resistance, so I see this as a really positive project."
Notes for Editors:
- The e-Bug website is www.e-bug.eu
- e-Bug is being launched in ten EU countries with some of the highest antibiotic use and largest populations, making up 55% of the EU population. The 10 countries which will be implementing e-Bug are Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain. The eight countries which are seeking funding to implement it are Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Slovenia and Slovakia
- e-Bug is sponsored by the European Commission Director General for Health, and Consumer Protection Directorate General. 40% of funding is contributed by the ten countries implementing e-Bug
- e-Bug has already been endorsed by the Ministries of Health and Education in 10 EU countries
- e-Bug will not be formally included in the English school curriculum but the pack will be sent to all schools as a hard copy resource for teachers. e-Bug has been evaluated within schools in Gloucestershire and London
Notes to editors
General infection control practices and good respiratory hand hygiene can help to reduce transmission of all viruses, including swine flu. This includes:
- Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of virus from your hands to face or to other people.
- Cleaning hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product.
- Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible.
- Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully.
- Making sure your children follow this advice.
Further information on swine flu is available on the Health Protection Agency's website at www.hpa.org.uk/swineflu.