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Got the Flu? Seattle Wants to Swab Your Nose for a Massive Health Data Project

By January 28, 2019No Comments

Calling all feverish, coughing, achy Seattleites: Your germs could help prevent the next big pandemic.

At least, that’s the hope of a new project from the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine (BBI). The Seattle Flu Study will gather swabs from 10,000 resident schnozzes to better understand how contagious diseases spread in a community.

Researchers have set up six kiosks around the city, where they will take down personal and health information in addition to the nasal swabs. Participants will receive a $10 gift card.

“A century after the great flu pandemic that sickened one-third of the world’s population and killed more than 50 million people, influenza remains a potent threat to global health,” Dr. Trevor Bedford, Fred Hutch’s research and lead data scientist for the study, said in a statement. “The Seattle Flu Study will provide a more detailed understanding than we have today of how the flu virus spreads, allowing us to develop guidance and tools to curb or even prevent transmission.”

Last winter, 80,000 people died of the flu, the most in 40 years. The study’s researchers will analyze the pathogens they gather using genetic sequencing and compare them genetically and geographically.