Month: May 2018

That’s all folks!

Thank you to everyone that participated in the 2017/2018 academic year!!!


We ended up with 164 participants who visited the clinic, with a total of 627 visits, 264 downloads of the Smartphone App, which ended up collecting over 1.8 MILLION data points, and 283 completed baseline surveys.  All of this means we got some amazing data, and were able to give out $___ in compensation to our amazing participants!


The clinical visits were divided into several categories, as indicated by the figure below.  A “Brief Case” visit was made when a person reported they were feeling ill.  If they met certain criteria that suggested they may be sick with one of our target viruses, they also provided samples for an “In Depth Case” visit.  Those that were confirmed to be infected with a target pathogen provided the names of their closest contacts, who were then invited in for a “Contact” visit. contacts that became infected with the same virus as their nominator were brought in as a “Secondary Case.” Finally, those that filled in our Baseline Survey at the beginning of the study were invited to provide a final set of samples as part of a “Study Completion“ visit.


Using our TaqMan Array system, we were able to screen our participants for over 40 different pathogens.  The viral infections we were most interested in this semester included Influenza (both A and B), Coronaviruses, Adenovirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and Human Parainfluenza Viruses. A breakdown of the number infections we detected is in the figure, right.


Other infections we were able to detect from our participant samples with our assay included Bacterial infections, such as:

  • Mycoplasma pneumonia,
  • Streptococcus pneumonia,
  • Streptococcus pyogenes, and
  • Bordetella parapertussis.

Other viral infections detected with the assay included:

  • Astrovirus,
  • Epstein-Barr Virus, and
  • Human Metapnuemo Virus.


Most of the infections we detected were a result of Rhinovirus, which while not necessarily one of our target viruses of interest, isn’t that surprising.  They don’t call it the “common cold” for nothing! Some unlucky people were actually infected with multiple viruses, which can be seen in Table 1, detailing coinfections in our participant population.

Another piece of our overall study was monitoring the CO2 levels in the dormitories of the Cambridge Community. CO2 levels can be used to estimate the amount of exhaled breath in a room, which in turn can be used to estimate your exposure risk to respiratory viruses.  Within the Cambridge Community, Cambridge Hall recently underwent renovations, to include a new HVAC system, which allows for air exchange with the outside.  In contrast, Centerville Hall’s ventilation system does not allow for this exchange with the outdoor air supply.  We wanted to examine what affect this difference in ventilation systems might have on infection rates, and found that there was a difference in the number of viral infections between participants residing in buildings with high outdoor air exchange and buildings with low outdoor air exchange.



Number of Residents Cases
All Viral Agents
(rate per 100)
Target 5 Agents
(rate per 100)
High Outdoor Air Exchange 200 2 (1) 2(1)
Low Outdoor Air Exchange 533 53(9.9) 49(9.2)
Not in Targeted Residence Halls 772 20(2.6) 20(2.6)
Total 1505 75 71


Congratulations to Our May and End of Semester Winners for Downloading the Smartphone App!

We want to say a big congratulations to our final two winners.  One was awarded our final monthly prize of $20 and a Giant Microbe, and the other was our big, end-of-semester, and she also won a Giant Microbe, as well as $500!!!

Our final, end-of-semester winner, showing off her Influenza Giant Microbe!


Thanks to all who downloaded the app, it allowed us to collect some great data and will help us to better understand how contact can impact respiratory virus transmission!

Congratulations to our April Smartphone App Download winners!

We’d like to send congratulations out to the winners of our April prize drawings!

Both of these winners received $20 and a Giant Microbe (flu on the left, Rhinovirus on the right).


If you would like a chance to win one of our bimonthly prizes, all you need to do is DOWNLOAD and run our Smartphone App.  Also remember that we’ll have a drawing at the end of the semester and award the winner $500!!!  It’s not too late to download the app and earn entries to win our end of semester prize!

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