NIH seeks volunteers to "catch" flu


Kendis Gibson/CNN

Thirty Hoosiers have now died from the flu, with at least five of those deaths coming from Marion County. But the National Institutes of Health wants people to volunteer to catch the illness for research studies. They're offering up a cash incentive of $3,000.

The volunteers would get quarantined at a building on the NIH campus in Maryland for at least nine days, and infected with a mild to moderate strain of the H1N1 flu virus. Doctors here say its the only clear way of studying the flu.

"In this setting, we know exactly when they were exposed, how long they've been sick, when they became infectious, how infectious they are. We can monitor every part of the immune system response so we can learn what we need to learn in order to improve the vaccines," said Dr. Matthew Memoli, NIH scientist.

They've already had one batch of 24 volunteers, and they've learned most people have the flu days before any symptoms. Most patients have the flu, on average, five to six days.

More volunteers are needed for future studies, but who would do it? Depends who you ask.

"No, for $3,000, I wouldn't purposely get the flu," said one passerby.

But another said the $3,000 "makes something infinitely more palatable. I've been been to the NIH before and, you know, the facilities and the living conditions there aren't exactly Motel 6, but for $3,000, sure I'll do it."

Researchers are looking for male and female volunteers between the ages of 18 and 50 years old.

Learn more here, and see contact information.