The C.A.T.C.H. Study has morphed into the StopCOVID Study

After three and a half years, the CATCH study is drawing to a close. We’ve worked with hundreds of participants and collected thousands of specimens, and we’ve improved our understanding of the transmission of respiratory viruses. We even had an article published recently: “Ventilation and laboratory confirmed acute respiratory infection (ARI) rates in college residence halls in College Park, Maryland” – Environment International 137 (2020) 105537, Zhu et al.

This program known as CATCH is ending, but there’s still quite a bit more work to be done! Go to our new study StopCOVID UMD at to find out more!


The CATCH study team

New: UMD COVID-19 Study

We are recruiting new onset cases of COVID-19 to come to SPH for a new study. We are trying to find out if people with the infection are shedding infectious virus in their breath and whether surgical and homemade masks help reduce the amount shed into the air.  You can learn more about the new study at this website:

Members of the CATCH study cohort who report symptoms and are able to come to campus for testing will be tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. If they test positive for COVID-19 they will be given the opportunity to enroll in our new study.

The C.A.T.C.H. Study Will Go On!

Dear Participants,

The C.A.T.C.H. Study will continue. Although spring break will be extended and classes will move on-line, the research team will be here and the lab and clinic will be open.

During Spring Break — please keep using your wearable device and responding to daily symptom questionnaires and we will be happy to keep providing you compensation for your effort — every day without a break.

The research clinic will close this Friday (March 13) at 3pm, and reopen Monday March 23. So if you are staying on or near campus after break and through the period of on-line only instruction, you can still come to clinic and provide swabs — which we can test. We can still enroll contacts, if you have any.

Meanwhile, be safe. The new CDC guidelines for keeping homes and workplaces safe are fantastic, and comprehensive. Read and follow them.

Wishing you all the best,
The CATCH Team

Coronavirus symposium at UMD and other news

Did you catch the symposium in the Hoff theater today? If not, you can watch on Youtube — hear me and other faculty  from the SPH to learn more about the new coronavirus virus, what to expect, how to (and not to) read the news, and how to stay well.

Have you been wondering about how the situation on the cruise ship Diamond Princes got to be so bad? This article on Buzzfeednews with extensive information and links to some outstanding science by our friend and colleague at Purdue, Qingyan Chen, is worth a read [disclaimer — I’m quoted too].

Common Coronaviruses and the Novel Coronavirus — Big Difference!!

The common coronavirus is common — on average 17% of students get it every year.
The novel coronavirus is, well, novel and far away.  

You probably heard the news about the 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that started in Wuhan late last year. Well, so far there’s none of that here. But, there’s lots of the “run of the mill,” common coronavirus around this year and every year. It is one of the things that causes the “common cold.” These ‘normal’ human coronaviruses (HCoV) are definitely NOT ‘novel.’ There are  four different types of HCoV: 229E, HKU1, NL63, and OC43. Over the last three years of the CATCH study, we’ve identified over 100 cases of these four common coronaviruses. Here’s the data — note that each year we saw lots of coronavirus. On average over the years, 17% of people in our research study had a coronavirus infection.

Virus Sp 2017 Sp 2018 Sp 2019 Total
229E 5 6 20 31
HKU1 4 15 2 21
NL63 3 15 18
OC43 13 3 19 35
All Common HCoV 25 24 56 105
Total Participants 68 164 398 630
Percent infected 37% 15% 14% 17%

CATCH Year 4 is live!!!

Although our study is slightly different this year, our goal is still to figure out what makes people contagious, so we can prevent the spread of disease. With an improved understanding of what contributes to and impacts contagiousness, we may better prepare for – and possibly prevent – future outbreaks of influenza or other acute respiratory infections!

Acute respiratory infections (like the common cold or the flu) have been detrimental to civilizations for centuries. While research has come a long way, the annual influenza epidemic persists – indicating the need for improved understanding of viral transmission. The C.A.T.C.H. the Virus Study is designed to investigate ARI contagiousness and to help make our communities healthier.

Can smart wearable devices be part of the solution? Can smart wearable devices identify when we are getting sick earlier and help us stay healthy? Enroll when you are healthy to help us find out!

Check out some of our participation opportunities:

Participation Method Description Compensation
Study member (enroll when healthy)
  • Questionnaires
  • Biologic Samples (nail clippings, nasal swabs & blood)
  • Wearable Device
  • Daily Text Messages
Up to $100 when you enroll
Earn daily rewards up to $70/month
Case (study member experiencing cold/flu symptoms)
  • Questionnaires
  • Nasal swabs
Up to $50
Contact (roommates, friends, significant others, etc.of sick study members)
  • Questionnaires
  • Biologic Samples (nasal swabs & blood)
  • Portable indoor air monitor in your residence
Up to $300
Study Completion
  • Questionnaire
  • Biologic Samples (nail clippings, nasal swabs & blood)
Up to $60

With a study as large as ours, we need all the help we can get!

Our consent forms at have the nitty gritty details if you want to find out more.

Contact us directly at or call/text 424-246-8368!


Flu Season is here!

After a refreshing break for the holidays, CATCH is back and ready to see participants!  The 2018-2019 flu season is gearing up, with the CDC reporting high to moderate flu activity for the Maryland/DC/Virginia area as of the end of the week of December 22, 2018.  We anticipate even more flu activity, especially on the UMD campus when students return for the Spring 2019 semester.

So remember, if you start feeling sick with cold and/or flu symptoms, contact the CATCH the Virus Study right away!  Your participation is critical for helping us understand Influenza and other respiratory virus transmission!

Adenovirus at UMD – What you need to know

While respiratory infections are common on college campuses, especially as the winter sets in and finals begin, a recent outbreak of Adenovirus on the University of Maryland campus has caused some concern.  So far, there have been 22 confirmed cases of Adenovirus, resulting in serious respiratory symptoms and in one unfortunate case, the death of a freshman student who passed away due to complications of the infection.  This outbreak has prompted a lot of concern on campus, and the university has responded with numerous statements from the campus health center warning of the signs and symptoms and making suggestions to anyone suffering from cold or flu like symptoms to be tested for Adenovirus.

What, exactly, is Adenovirus?  Adenoviruses are a group of relatively common viruses that mainly affect the respiratory system in the human host; however there are strains of the virus that can cause more serious illnesses, including Adenovirus serotype 7, which is the culprit in the serious outbreak at UMD.

The common symptoms of Adenovirus include fever, coughs, sore throat, diarrhea, and pink eye. Adenovirus is highly contagious and can be spread through both fomite (objects that carry infection) and aerosol (infectious particles in the air) transmission. Although Adenovirus infection is common and typically only presents mild symptoms, there is an exception in the case of people with weakened immune systems, such as those with chronic illnesses or people who have existing cardiac and respiratory diseases, who can develop serious and even life-threatening symptoms. The symptoms can be severe, such as pneumonia and inflammation of the brain, and can even be deadly in certain cases.

The best way for students at University of Maryland to protect themselves from contracting Adenovirus is constant hand sanitation, avoidance of touching surfaces that are touched by a lot of people in a day, and the avoidance of touching hands to the face before properly sanitizing them. It is best for students to be cautious no matter if they are in their dorms or classes. Carrying around hand sanitizer, coughing into their arms, and most importantly, staying home when feeling sick are the best ways to prevent the spread of this infection. Additionally, students with existing medical conditions are strongly urged to go to the health center or urgent care within 48 hour of developing symptoms to get proper medical treatment before the symptoms develop into something more serious.

91 Baseline Visits! How many more will give samples and get $60!?

As of 4:30 pm Monday December 10, we have collected baseline samples from 91 people and 254 have completed the baseline survey. If you did the survey already but haven’t given samples, you can still come give samples before you leave for winter break and receive up to $60.

Thank you to everyone who has participated. CATCH the virus Study — and we hope you stay well.

More news… we have received human subjects research approvals for a new part of the study. You will soon be able to enroll and receive a free Health Tag by Spire to “make your clothes smart” and monitor your health.

Off to a Great Start!

The study is up and running! This is our second week open and there has already been a huge turnout in clinic! See some of the awesome data below about how many participants we have already seen!

Baseline Surveys 202
Baseline Sample Visits 47
Case Brief Visits 2

Don’t forget, if you have already filled out the baseline survey you are eligible for the baseline sample visit! Come to clinic and have one of our trained RAs collect samples from you to continue participating in the study!

27-Nov 28-Nov 29-Nov 30-Nov 1-Dec 2-Dec 3-Dec 4-Dec
Baseline Surveys 49 57 15 12 4 11 41 11
Baseline Sample Visits 7 5 7 11 5 5 5 2
Case Brief Visits 1 1

If you have not signed up it is not too late! Contact the clinic to get started on the baseline survey and make an appointment to come to clinic for your baseline sample visit! We look forward to meeting with you!

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