Health

$3,000 for the flu? Scientists seek volunteers for virus study

Jan. 26, 2014 at 11:14 AM ET

2009
Cynthia Goldsmith

This highly-magnified, digitally-colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicted numbers of virions from a Novel Flu...
Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC
A digitally colored image of the H1N1 flu virus.

Forget being sneezed on: Government scientists are deliberately giving dozens of volunteers the flu by squirting the live virus straight up their noses.

It may sound bizarre, but the rare type of research aims to show how the body fights off influenza. Scientists hope to use the research to improve flu vaccines.

Only healthy adults need apply. Doctors at the National Institutes of Health spray millions of microscopic particles of flu virus up each nostril. The dose is intended to cause mild to moderate symptoms.

Then the volunteers spend nine days quarantined inside a special isolation ward at the NIH hospital so they don't spread the germs and can be closely monitored.

The incentive is about $3,000 to compensate for their time. 

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