October 11, 2012

An influenza research study led by Dr. Donald Milton, director of the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, is seeking to enroll people who contract flu this season in a clinical study that will provide information about how flu is spread. The study, "Evaluating Modes of Influenza Transmission (EMIT)," is funded by the Centers for Disease Control through a $10.4M two-year cooperative agreement with the University of Nottingham (UK) and a $1.39M subcontract to the University of Maryland School of Public Health. It has been reviewed and approved by the university's institutional review board (IRB). The primary goal of the research is to recruit people who have developed influenza infection so that researchers can measure how much virus they shed into infectious aerosols.

As part of the recruitment strategy, Milton and his team have developed an influenza surveillance system. They aim to enroll a large segment of the campus and surrounding community in the surveillance program though the website GOTFLU.ORG. The surveillance program will do more than merely help identify and enroll influenza cases in the clinical study. It will serve as a means of testing and detecting what infections are circulating on campus (using a 21 agent molecular screening lab test) and be a portal for distributing information from the University Health Center. It will also fill a gap in the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and CDC influenza surveillance program by providing aggregate surveillance data for the University of Maryland campus.