Author: dmilton (page 1 of 2)

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%

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.

200 People have done baseline surveys!

We are underway. Thank you to the first 200 people who have completed baseline surveys and to 47 who came to the clinic and gave baseline samples! You can fill out the survey anytime — if you didn’t get the email invitation give us a call at 4242-GOTFLU and we’ll send you one. Then schedule a time to come to the clinic and give biological samples and get paid.

The flu season is starting! Stay well but “CATCH the virus study!”

There’s just a little bit of flu around now. So, it’s not too late to get vaccinated. The chart below shows that there is just a tiny uptick recently. But, it is too early to know how big the season will be. We here at the CATCH study are ready to find out what happens on campus. Are you ready to join us, and get paid for your time? So far 120 people have completed the baseline survey and 19 have given baseline samples. Two people have been screened as possible acute respiratory infection cases. What about you?

This chart shows stacked bars displaying the number of positive tests colored by the type of influenza virus detected.

CDC FluView: Influenza positive tests reported to CDC by US Public Health Laboratories October 1, 2017 – November 17, 2018


See the Gesundheit-II in action (vintage clip from 2013)

In an online post called “Avoid the ‘back-to-school plague’ of flu and cold” CNN has a clip of the G-II in action in 2013 — when we collected samples from 178 people with influenza-like illness on the College Park Campus of the University of Maryland. A total of 156 of them had influenza virus infections and results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2018.

Do you have a cold or flu?

Stuffy nose, runny nose, tired and achy, scratchy throat, maybe a cough? Wonder what it is? If you are a first year student in the College Park Scholars STS, LS, or GPH programs (or a roommate of someone who is), you could find out — contact us. We can test you to see what you have, and you could join the study and be compensated for your effort.

CATCH the Virus Study NBC Evening News with Lester Holt

The NBC team with Dr. John Torres is just packing up and leaving campus now. Watch us on the Evening News with Lester Holt soon. (We will post an update when we know which night it will broadcast.)

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!

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