FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 8, 2009
The Scrub Club® Can Help Combat Seasonal and Avian
Web Site Teaches Children the Importance of Washing Their Hands
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Reports on new avian flu outbreaks continue to surface around the world. From Hong Kong to Cambodia to India and Thailand, new cases are being reported. This includes a two-year old girl from East Jakaria who died last month after developing symptoms. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been 393 cases reported, including 248 fatalities, since 2003.1
Avian influenza is a flu infection in birds. WHO says, "Direct contact with infected poultry, or surfaces and objects contaminated by their feces, is considered the main route of human infection." Health officials are working on developing additional vaccines that could protect people from catching the avian flu. Following simple hygiene practices, such as hand washing, can also help prevent the spread of the avian flu and other illnesses.
"Our first line of defense against all viruses, not just the avian bird flu, is hand washing," said Rob Donofrio, Director of NSF's Microbiology Laboratory. "Proper hand washing is one of the easiest things that we can all do to keep from getting sick and spreading illness."
NSF International, a not-for-profit public health organization, has developed a Web site (scrubclub.org) that teaches children how to properly wash their hands. Interactive games, including the one that features the evil villain "Influenza Enzo - Stop Fluin' Around," teaches children how illnesses are spread and how to prevent them.
Each of the Scrub Club® Soaper-Heroes represents one of the six steps in the hand washing process - "Hot Shot" and "Chill" combine to make the warm water essential for proper hand washing; "Squeaks" turns into various forms of soap; "Taki" becomes a clock that counts down the required 20 seconds for proper hand washing; "Scruff" reminds kids to clean around their nails; "Tank" turns into a sink to rinse away the germs and "P.T." transforms into paper towels.
"With the cold and flu season already in full swing, hand washing is more important than ever," said Cheryl Luptowski, NSF Public Information Officer. "By teaching children proper hand washing practices, we can make a difference in preventing the spread of the flu and other serious illnesses."
Additional information on the avian flu can be found here.
For more information about the Scrub Club® contact Greta Houlahan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734.913.5723 or visit scrubclub.org. Materials, such as a Scrub Club® membership card and educational materials for teachers and parents, can be downloaded directly from the site.
About NSF International:
NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit organization, helps protect you by certifying products and writing standards for food, water and consumer goods (www.nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting public health and safety worldwide. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment. Additional services include safety audits for the food and water industries, management systems registrations delivered through NSF International Strategic Registrations, organic certification provided by Quality Assurance International and education through the NSF Center for Public Health Education.
1 World Health Organization, 7 January, 2009, www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/country