Wanted: 3,000 volunteers for study on how flu spreads

PHOTO: Wanted: 3,000 volunteers for study on how flu spreads

SINGAPORE - A total of 3,000 volunteers are being sought for a study that examines the spread of influenza and other respiratory infections in households and in the community.

The household-based study, which began in late February, is conducted by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health and the Communicable Disease Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

It will examine how often people fall ill from respiratory infections and identify factors that prevent people from developing influenza or its more severe forms.

These include measures that people may take to protect themselves.

Other factors include the places they go to and people they meet at home and in the workplace, and whether they had been vaccinated previously.

A total of 354 participants from 118 households have signed up for the study so far.

A 2006 study estimated that influenza is associated with about 600 deaths in Singapore every year, mainly in people aged over 65.

Members of households are invited to enrol if there are at least two willing participants aged six and above. Pregnant women and non-Singaporeans may also participate.

Participants will be asked to contribute an initial blood sample of 30ml - about six teaspoons' worth.

Half this amount will be taken from participants who are pregnant or aged six to 12.

Three more blood samples of the same quantity will be collected approximately every six months from the time of enrolment.

Those keen on taking part in the study can call 6478-9608 on weekdays from 8.30am to 5.30pm or send an e-mail to sccs@nus.edu.sg.

myp@sph.com.sg


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