New kiosks will be stationed around Seattle to study how the flu spreads, as researchers look for ways to develop better vaccines and improve early detection.

The Seattle Flu Study asks volunteers with two or more flu symptoms to visit one of several booths, where participants provide a nasal swab as well as basic personal and health information.

The study, launched this month, is being conducted by the Seattle-based Brotman Baty Institute, a research organization with ties to UW Medicine, Fred Hutch, and Seattle Children’s.

Organizers said the goal is to improve detection, monitoring, and treatment of the flu, and create a new city-wide network for studying how the virus spreads, how quickly it is transmitted, and who it impacts.

“We often don't get that kind of data back until several weeks after the first flu case shows up in the hospital,” said Dr. Helen Chu, who is leading the study.

The study aims to recruit 10,000 people this flu season. In exchange, each volunteer will receive a $10 gift card.

Dr. Chu says the flu season started a bit later this year, and will likely peak in the coming weeks.

Researchers say participants’ personal info is kept confidential.

They say the study could help them understand why other viruses spread, not just the flu, and could give them a head start if there's ever a pandemic, like the rapidly spreading cases of bird flu ten years ago.

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