Down with Flu? Scientists Want to Study Your Germs

Dec. 11, 2012
URMC Enrolling Patients in Acute Flu Clinical Research Study

Feeling feverish? Have a cough, cold or sore throat? This winter, experts at the University of Rochester Medical Center want to study your germs.

This marks the fourth year that URMC’s infectious disease researchers are collecting blood samples and throat swabs to learn more about seasonal flu viruses – the amount of virus that resides in the nasal cavity, how long it stays there and “sheds” (that is, how long people are contagious), and how the disease spreads throughout households.

“We know it’s inconvenient to make a trip to a research center when you’re not feeling well,” said study investigator John Treanor, M.D., who serves as chief for URMC’s Infectious Disease Division. “But this research will provide valuable insight into how the virus behaves, arming us with the information we need to become better at fighting flu.”

If you’re feeling feverish and have respiratory symptoms (congestion, cough, sore throat, etc.), call 585-273-3990 to see if you qualify for a study screening. If you do, and if blood work then confirms your illness, you’ll be asked to attend four follow up visits throughout the month (three, seven, 10 and 28 days after your initial screening) and track your symptoms on a diary card. Participants will be compensated $25 per visit; all ages are needed.

Additionally, if study participants have confirmed flu, their immediate household members are eligible (but not required) to be screened as well. If a household member also appears ill and flu is confirmed, that household member may also enroll as a study subject; if a household member has no symptoms, or if flu is not confirmed, they may be invited back for periodic well-visits to see if they later contract the virus, too. Participating household subjects also will receive $25 per visit.

Besides asking the community for help, researchers are hoping to intercept ill college students who present to University locations, including campus health clinics.

This acute flu study is an important part of research portfolio of the New York Influenza Center of Excellence’s (NYICE) – a research enterprise charged with making seasonal influenza and future influenza pandemics less deadly. The NYICE – established in 2007 thanks to a $26 million, seven-year contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – represents a collaboration of the University of Rochester, Cornell University, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and community partners.