Page last updated at 23:59 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Pupils targeted in superbug fight

Cartoon bug
E-Bug uses interactive games to teach children about infection control

Schools are being urged to teach pupils about infection control as experts step up the fight against superbugs.

The Health Protection Agency's e-Bug teaching resource uses interactive games and lesson handouts to explain the need for prudent antibiotic use.

It will be made available to schools across the UK and the rest of Europe from 2009.

The teaching pack is being launched to coincide with the first ever European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is co-ordinating the day which will see a series of campaigns launched across EU states.

In England, the Department of Health will relaunch its Antibiotics! Do You Need Them? advertising campaign, which was first run at the start of this year.

The over-use of antibioitics is considered one of the key reasons for the rise in so-called superbugs because it gives the bacteria the chance to build up immunity to the drugs.

Children are our future generation of antibiotic users and they will also take these important messages home to their parents
Dr Cliodna McNulty, of the Health Protection Agency

The ECDPC will also unveil a breakdown of how each country is doing in tackling antibiotic resistant infections.

Throughout the UK , MRSA rates have begun to fall, although the HPA recently warned of a rise in a new breed of antibiotic-resistant bugs.

The e-Bug teaching resource, which includes lesson plans, handouts and interactive games, has been developed by the HPA for primary and secondary school pupils.

It includes information on good microbes, bad microbes and the importance of hand hygiene as well as warning about the over-use of antibiotics.

Problem

Dr Cliodna McNulty, the HPA official who led the development of e-Bug, said: "Antibiotic resistance is a problem for all of us and the public has an important role to play in controlling its emergence and spread.

"Public campaigns so far have been aimed at adults who are gatekeepers to antibiotic use in our children, but we need to educate our future generation of adults and parents about the benefits of antibiotics and the problems that can arise through their misuse.

Cartoon bugs
Antibiotic resistance has become a problem across Europe

"Children are our future generation of antibiotic users and they will also take these important messages home to their parents."

Dr Jim Kennedy, the prescribing spokesman for the Royal College of GPs, said: "It is great that children will be taught about this.

"The over-use of antibiotics plays a huge role in these infections and doctors are still put under pressure to prescribe these drugs when it is not necessary."

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