As cases of Swine Flu continue to increase researchers at The University of Nottingham say patients who live in the Nottingham area could help vital research into how the virus is spread.
Researchers want to know how long someone with Swine flu is contagious for and establish advice on a ‘safe distance’ from a patient. As part of the study they are recruiting adults and children from Nottingham who have had symptoms of Swine flu (fever, cough, sore throat, tiredness, runny nose) for less than 48 hours.
The study is being led by Professor Jonathan Nguyen Van Tam, in the School of Community Health Sciences, and the Health Protection Agency East Midlands. Their work is part of a programme of urgent research which has been commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research on behalf of the Department of Health.
The volunteers will be visited at home every day for about 10 days by doctors and nurses who are part of the research team. Each visit lasts about half an hour, during which time the patients will have a nose swab taken and swabs will also be taken from some of the surfaces around their home.
Dr Ben Killingley said: “By volunteering to take part in this research patients suffering from the early signs of Swine flu will contribute to furthering our knowledge about the virus which may lead to fewer people becoming infected in the future.”
Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency estimate that there were 53,000 new cases of Swine Flu in England last week — a 96 per cent increase on the previous weeks increase. Although the disease is generally mild in most people so far, it is proving severe in a small minority of cases.
According to the HPA just over 500 people were in hospital last week and there had been 93 deaths related to Swine flu in England.
Professor Van Tam said: “Very little is currently known about the H1N1 virus which makes predicating the number of people likely to catch it and how best to treat them very hard. For example we do not know how long the virus is excreted by infected humans and how much virus is spread to surfaces and carried in the air.”
Anyone who lives in Nottingham who would like to volunteer for the study should contact the research team on 0115 823 1813 for more information.