BETHESDA - A new study from the University of Maryland School of Public Health aims to learn how the flu is transmitted by studying infections in real time – and they're looking for volunteers.
As part of the study, researchers will put healthy volunteers in a closed-off floor of a hotel, where they will be exposed to people who are already sick from the flu.
Sick volunteers will be compensated up to $1,900 in the study. Researchers are looking for people between 18-59 who have just begun the flu. Flu sufferers who want to volunteer can call 410-706-8800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Nobody has successfully observed influenza transmission under controlled conditions. It has never been done." said Professor Dr. Donald Milton. "Until we can observe transmission and see how it really happened in real time, we don't know for sure how it works."
The hotel rooms will be set up with devices that will measure the amount of virus particles in exhaled air, and to test UV lights and air filters to see if they help keep the flu from spreading.
"These things happen all the time when we get together for the holidays, when we get together for meals, and other social groups," said Dr. Wilbur Chen, the study’s lead collaborator from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "We just need to be able to capture it and monitor it very closely while on the quarantine unit."
Milton is setting out to see whether the flu is mainly spread by breathing air contaminated with viruses.
"If that turns out to be true, we can take action to prevent flu – and potentially other viruses – by improving air quality in public places, like schools and religious meeting houses, along with in homes," said Milton.