Month: December 2017

Announcing Our First Monthly Smartphone App Download Winner

Each month, the CATCH study awards a prize to a randomly selected participant who has downloaded and is collecting data for our smartphone app.  Each winner is awarded a $20 debit card and a GiantMicrobe, an adorable  stuffed version of some of the viruses we’re tracking in our study.

Here is our December winner and his Rhinovirus!

The longer you have the app downloaded, the longer you are collecting data points, and the more entries you have in our next drawing! We’ll also be selecting a winner for our end of semester drawing, which is for $500, so stay tuned!!!!

In addition to the chance to win some great prizes, you also get paid $10 just for downloading!

Download here, or by scanning this code:

CATCH RAs are the BEST!!!

As we finish our fall 2017 semester, we just want to send a HUGE thank you out to all of the students that helped out as a Research Assistant with the study.

This semester we had 61 students serving as an RA split between our clinical section and our laboratory section (although some couldn’t make it to the photo).

The Lab RAs

The Clinic RAs


We appreciate all of the effort you put in this semester, especially given the challenges we encountered with getting the study approved and started.  We are excited to continue in the spring, and especially excited that so many of you are planning on returning!

Interested in participating as an RA with CATCH? Find more information on our website!


Have a great break, rest up and get ready to CATCH the virus; we’ll see you next semester!

291,000 to 646,000 People Die from Influenza Each Year

A new study published in The Lancet calculated worldwide annual influenza deaths from surveillance data collected in 33 countries covering 57% of the world population for the years 1999 to 2015. The burden is greatest for poor regions and the elderly (especially those over age 75). Summaries of the findings were posted by the CDC and CIDRAP. A Commentary accompanying the paper in The Lancet suggests that a major roadblock to reducing the death toll is the low level of effectiveness of current vaccines, especially in the elderly.

Here in College Park, CATCH the Virus Study is working to provide new insights to help defend against influenza. If you live in the cluster of residence halls known as the Cambridge Community, and especially if you are a freshman in the STS, LS, or GPH Scholars program you too can help by participating in the study.

Flu Season Heating Up

Data from CDC through last Friday (12/2) shows that the flu season has started. However, activity in DC and MD remains sporadic or just local outbreaks. 

It is hard to know at this point early in the season just how much influenza-like illness there will be this winter. But, as you can see in the chart comparing 5 previous seasons, it looks like we are on course for a lot of flu. The good news in this weeks report from CDC is that 77% of influenza A viruses tested were a close match to the vaccine strain. The bad news is that 23% were from a newer clade of influenza A H3N2 viruses similar to those that caused a bad season in Australia during our summer. The vaccine is not perfect — but it’s all we’ve got. Hope you got yours … But in case you didn’t yet, it’s not too late!

Influenza is a Global Health Problem — disparate impact on low income countries

Infants and pregnant women in low and middle income countries (LMICs) are at much higher risk of death and other severe outcomes from influenza infection than babies and pregnant women in high income countries. If you want the quick read — see this post at the University of Minnesota’s CIDRAP. The full journal articles are also linked there.

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