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Volunteers Needed for Avian Flu Vaccine Trial

Updated: Thursday, September 26 2013, 12:46 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- Researchers at Cincinnati Children's treatment evaluation unit are looking for volunteers to test a vaccine that could stop the spread of a potentially deadly flu virus. Medical reporter Liz Bonis tells us about it in today's Medical Edge.

Just a few months ago human cases of what's called the H7N9 influenza began showing up in China. It's a flu that for the first time seems to be going from birds to humans.

So far, it's infected 135 people, and killed at least 44 of them, according to the World Health Organization.

How'd they get it? Pediatric infection disease specialist Dr. Rebecca Brady says "these individuals probably had a lot of contact with their own poultry that they are taking care of."

She says usually bird viruses don't spread to humans, so early symptoms of this flu
were likely missed. It's a danger because it may be particularly harsh. "It did seem to be making those individuals more sick than usual, a lot more involvement of the lungs," says Dr. Brady.

So now Doctor Brady is part of a team commissioned by the National Institutes of Health to test the safety and effectiveness of an H7N9 vaccine. Andrea powers is one of hundreds of volunteers needed to help test it.

She signed up to get the vaccine in hopes she says of paying good health forward, "I think future wise, it helps other folks, I have a 12-year-old son, he and his friends could benefit from this."

It is important to note that we have no known cases of this so far in the United States, which is what makes this research so important right now.

Nine sites in total are conducting these studies, and they hope to find out more, especially if it mutates and could create a potential public health problem.

That problem would come if the bird flu did start spreading to humans on a large scale in the U.S. and we didn't have a way to prevent and treat it.  So Michelle Dickey, an infectious disease nurse practitioner, says researchers are also gathering flu vaccine testing information "so that we can measure how ready we are if we were to have a pandemic outbreak".

You can't get the bird flu from the vaccine, it's not a live virus. Volunteers simply come back in a few weeks for blood draws which measure a response in the body, to show if the vaccine is effective against it.

Volunteers are still needed to test this vaccine and several others. For details call 513-636-7699.

Volunteers Needed for Avian Flu Vaccine Trial

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