Pitt conducts sensor flu study on schoolchildren

School children are aiding researchers from the University of Pittsburgh who are conducting a study on the spread of influenza and other diseases.

The 450 children are to be given remote sensors called motes that are worn around the neck. When two motes are within close proximity to one another, they record the encounter. The data will be used to determine how often children from the same school, according to

The study will be conducted over a period of three days, including Election Day, when the children are out of school.

"This is the first time this is being done anywhere, ever," Charles Vukotich Jr., a senior project manager at Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health, said, the New York Times reports.

The study is funded by a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is part of a larger project on disease transmissibility called Social Mixing and Respiratory Transmission in Schools, or SMART.

Vukotich said that the data will help researchers to develop techniques to prevent the spread of influenza that do not require pharmaceuticals. The project was prompted by the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Vukotich stressed that in the early days of a pandemic a vaccine will not be available and other techniques will therefore be critical.