Eas­ing the ef­fects of sneez­ing

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

Pupils are set to be­come teach­ers if a les­son about how sneez­ing spreads ill­ness takes hold.

The an­nual Sneeze Safe cam­paign en­cour­ag­ing kids to cover their sneezes and con­fine their coughs and snif­fles, uses glitter, spray bot­tles, and soap bub­bles to demon­strate how air­borne germs spread to in­fect oth­ers.

Mandy Veza’s year 4 and 5s at Roslyn School re­sponded en­thu­si­as­ti­cally to the les­son.

‘‘We like shar­ing, but not colds, coughs and flu,’’ Veza said as she sprayed them with fine wa­ter droplets and asked the chil­dren to imag­ine the mois­ture they could feel was the af­ter ef­fects of some­body’s sneezes set­tling their skin.

Ara­p­ata Hirini, 9, de­scribed the droplets as ‘‘lit­tle sneeze germs’’.

The spray showed just how how far and how fast germ-laden sneezes could spread.

Soap bub­bles then il­lus­trated in a graphic way how germs could float through the air, and how long they could last.

It wasn’t just on other peo­ple where sneezed cold and flu germs set­tled, but on things such as com­puter key­boards that oth­ers would touch.

‘‘You sneeze all over your key­board, and then some­one else comes along to use it, and they now have your germs,’’ Veza told them.

A glitter hand­shake, with the glitter stand­ing in for the germs, was next, and demon­strated how easy it was to pass on colds and flu by touch.

Preven­tion tech­niques in­cluded trap­ping the sneeze ei­ther by us­ing the in­side of the el­bow, or cupped hands, which should then be washed. Hand­ker­chiefs, which have a down­side in that they can then be­come a pocket ve­hi­cle for germs, were an­other line of de­fence.

The pre­ferred op­tion the chil­dren were told, were tis­sues that could be binned.

The ‘Trap it! Bin it! Wash it!’ cam­paign was based on re­search that sug­gested 40 per cent of New Zealan­ders were un­aware of how colds and flu were spread.

It was de­signed to lift stan­dards of cold and flu hy­giene prac­tised by chil­dren, and to stop bad habits be­fore they started.

At the end of the les­son, Veza’s class was en­cour­aged to take the SneezeSafe mes­sage home to share with whanau mem­bers.

PHOTO: RICHARD MAYS/FAIRFAX NZ

Roslyn School teacher Mandy Veza uses bub­ble mix to demon­strate how flu germs spread on the air, with Zakia Sayed, 8.

PHOTO: RICHARD MAYS/FAIRFAX NZ

Roslyn School teacher Mandy Veza uses glitter to demon­strate to her class how flu spreads by hand con­tact.

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