Respiratory Virus Transmission Network for Influenza (RVTN-Flu) 

The Respiratory Virus Transmission Network for Influenza (RVTN-Flu) is designed to estimate how influenza (flu) spreads within households and whether vaccines reduce transmission of flu. This study can also be used to understand how influenza vaccination changes the risk of infection in households.

The RVTN-Flu uses an enhanced case-ascertained household transmission study design. In this approach, households are enrolled by first recruiting a person who tests positive for influenza; this person is referred to as an index case. The other members of the index case’s household are also enrolled.

An index case is eligible for enrollment in this study if they:

  • Have tested positive for influenza,
  • Have not had illness or had their illness for five or fewer days,
  • Are likely the first person with illness or infection in the household,
  • Live in a non-congregate setting with at least one other person,
  • Have not been admitted to the hospital due to their illness.

Once enrolled, the index case and all enrolled household members self-collect daily nasal swab specimens for influenza testing over a 7-day period. They also log daily illness symptoms and answer questions about vaccination history, relevant medical history, demographic information, and ways in which household members interact with one another. These daily logs and specimens are used to identify more people in the household who are infected, helping determine the risk of secondary infection within the household.

To carry out the study, the Respiratory Virus Transmission Network for Influenza currently collaborates with Washington University School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Each participating site is using an existing network of walk-in-clinics, outpatient clinics, and emergency departments with integrated testing to identify patients who have recently tested positive for influenza infections.

In the past, the Respiratory Virus Transmission Network (RVTN) has fostered collaborations with additional academic partners including, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, University of North Carolina, University of Colorado, University of Arizona, and Stanford University. You can learn more about previous RVTN research and findings here.