Environment Forum

Students use “Dracula Sneeze” to fend off swine flu

April 27, 2009

To keep the swine flu from spreading, California public school students are being told to practice what they have dubbed the “Dracula Sneeze.”

California Schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell said that last week teachers reminded students that if they have to sneeze, to put their mouths into the crook of one of their elbows.

“The students started calling that the Dracula Sneeze, and we picked up on that,” O’Connell said on Monday.

As of Monday afternoon, no state public schools have been closed due to swine flu. A private school in the Sacramento, California area was closed on Monday when a teenager got sick, possibly of swine flu.

O’Connell said students can identify with the Dracula character and if that helps them practice better hygeiene, the Dracula Sneeze is what they’ll call the maneuver.

The image many have of the fictional vampire Dracula is of one of his arms — enclosed in a cape — draped over his mouth.

In addition to the Dracula Sneeze, O’Connell said students are told to wash their hands often — for at least 20 seconds each time — and to say home if they are sick.

O’Connell said the biggest state school system in the United States is monitoring the progress of swine flu but has yet made any plans to shut any schools.

“Our schools are safe,” O’Connell told Reuters. “To keep this in perspective, we have seven identifiable cases of swine flu in California limited to two counties, and we have 6.3 million students. We want to take every precaution. We are monitoring. We are watching.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Centers for Disease Control/Handout. (An image depicts the ultrastructural details of a number of influenza virus particles.)

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