BIOPHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF INFLUENZA VIRUS BIOAEROSOL:

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR:
Professor James Scott
Dalla Lana School of Public Health
University of Toronto
223 College St. Toronto ON M5T 1R4
Tel. 416-946-8778

SITE PIs:
Dr. Allison McGeer (Mt. Sinai Hospital), Dr. Andy Simor (Sunnybrook Hospital), Dr. Kevin Katz (North York General Hospital), Dr. Siggy Krajden (St. Joseph's Hospital), Dr. David Rose (Scarborough General & Scarborough Grace Hospitals)

CO-INVESTIGATORS:
Bozek P, Sass-Kortsak AM, Krajden S, McGeer A, Holness DL

RESEARCH PARTNERS:
Susan Finn (Starplex Scientific Inc.), Dr. Gabor Lantos (Occupational Health Management Services Inc.), Dr. Mel Krajden (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control)

SPONSORS:
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario (WSIB), Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease (CREOD)

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY:
This research project is led by Professor James Scott, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, to study the spread of the flu virus in the air in a range of different institutional health care environments. Flu is an upper respiratory disease caused by influenza virus and characterized by runny nose, sneezing, fever and malaise (a general feeling of discomfort). The main purpose of this project is to study the behavior of the flu virus in the air and to determine the role of fine airborne particles in the spread of flu. No prior studies have been done to look at the behavior of flu virus in the air.

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH:
About 400 participants will be enrolled in this study from 20 health care facilities. Up to twenty participants from each participating facility may be enrolled. Once a patient consents to participate in the study, we will ask them the following questions: 1) their age; 2) how sick the they are from the flu; 3) if they have any other major health problems affecting their heart or lungs; 4) what medicines they take; 5) what type of flu they have; and 6) if they had a flu shot. With patient's permission we will obtain a nasal swab. We will then set up three small sampling machines in their room to sample the air for flu virus. Each machine is about the size of a toaster, and contains a pump to suck in air. The pump operates quietly all the time. One machine will be placed near the head of the bed, another at the foot of the bed, and a third near the door to the room. A researcher will change the samples three times a day for 34 days. The researcher will not ask the participant any questions. The samples will be tested for the flu virus and then they will be discarded. No samples will be banked. We will also sample the respiratory masks of the staff who are involved in the patient's care.

RESEARCH ETHICS BOARD (REB) APPROVALS:
We have received full approval for this study from the University of Toronto REB. We have further received full REB approvals from hospitals including University Health Network (UHN) / Toronto General Hospital, Mt. Sinai Hospital, St. Michael's Hospital, Sunnybrook Hospital, North York General Hospital, Scarborough General and Grace Hospitals, and pending approval from St. Joseph's Hospital (Toronto).

POTENTIAL HARMS (INJURY, DISCOMFORT, OR INCONVENIENCE):
There are no known harms associated with participation in this study. However, the participant may experience some minor inconvenience as a result of the researcher entering their room from time to time to retreive air samples. We will do our best to minimize such inconvenience.

POTENTIAL BENEFITS:
Participants will not benefit directly benefit by participating in this study. Even though the results of our work will not be of direct benefits to the participant, we hope through our testing to gain a better understanding of how the flu spreads through the air.

COMPENSATION AND REIMBURSEMENT:
Participants will not receive any compensation for their participation in this study.

PARTICIPATION AND WITHDRAWAL:
Participation in this study is voluntary. If a patient decides to participate in this study they can change their mind at any time without giving a reason, and may withdraw from the study at any time.

CONFIDENTIALITY AND PROTECTING YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION:
All of the information that we obtain will be kept confidential and stored for 5 years in a locked, secure laboratory in a research facility at the University of Toronto downtown campus. Only people directly involved in this study will have access to the study data.
Our guidelines include the following:

  • All information that identifies the patient, both paper copy and electronic information, will be kept confidential and stored and locked in a secure place that only the study personnel will be able to access;
  • Electronic files will be stored securely on institution computers or securely on any portable electronic devices; and,
  • No information identifying the patient will be allowed off-site in any form.

STUDY RESULTS:
We will publish the results of our study in medical and scientific journals to let others know what we found. We will not disclose the participant identity in our article, and we will only talk about the participants of our study as a group. If the participant is interested we would be happy to send you a free copy of our results.

STUDY CONTACT:
For more information on the study, contact: