January 31, 2014
Would You Get Infected With H1N1 Flu For $3,000?
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Not many people want to get the flu, but what if the virus came with a $3,000 check?
That’s what the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are offering as the research agency is trying to find volunteers to have the H1N1 influenza virus injected into their nose, to be able to investigate just how the immune system responds to each period of the illness.
Volunteers must be healthy, between 18 and 50 years old, agree not to use tobacco during the study, and females of “childbearing potential” must agree to practice effective contraception or abstinence for four weeks before and 8 weeks after administration of the virus.
After being infected, participants will be quarantined within an isolation ward during the research until they are no longer infectious. While in isolation, the volunteers go through a series of tests, including an echocardiogram and respiratory tests. Participants have also agreed to have their nasal fluid sampled and saved for future research. At the conclusion, participants must also fill out a series of surveys regarding their time in the ward.
Though the applied dose of virus is expected to create only gentle to normal symptoms, it still carries a danger. More than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized for the flu each year and thousands die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"I received a very scolding email from my mother" about signing up, study volunteer Daniel Bennet, from College Park, Md, told the New York Daily News. "Their standards are so high,, I don't believe I'm in danger. I don't get sick that often."
According to the NIH, the present study is looking at whether a particular type of antibody in the blood determines if someone gets the flu. Dr. Matthew Memoli, who is leading the study, said the research will help to inform future flu vaccines. He noted that study participants have become contagious a day or two before they start feeling sick, which helps to explain proliferation of the virus.
Earlier this month, the CDC reported more than half the United States is reporting widespread cases of flu activity.
While last year’s flu season was among the worst in recent years in the US, one of this year’s strains - H1N1 - is comprising over half of the cases reported thus far. During the 2009-2010 flu season, H1N1 caused a global pandemic, spreading from central Mexico to more than 70 other countries, causing the deaths of some 284,000 people, according to the CDC.
“We are seeing a big uptick in disease in the past couple of weeks. The virus is all around the United States right now,” Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of Epidemiology and Prevention in the CDC’s Influenza Division, told Reuters.
During the 2009-2010 flu season, younger people were more susceptible to H1N1. This year it is still too early to tell if the same age group will be most at risk, noted Bresee.
“There is still a lot of season to come. If folks haven’t been vaccinated, we recommend they do it now,” he said.