What we know about acute respiratory infections

Respiratory infections such as colds, influenza and pneumonia affect millions of people around the world each year. ARIs are one of the most common infectious diseases across Europe. Most cases are mild, but some people become very unwell.

What we are not sure about

There is a great deal that we still do not understand about why some people become more unwell than others, including the role of pre-existing health conditions and the effect of in-born abilities to fight infections.

What this study is exploring

This study is looking at acute (recent onset) respiratory (nose, throat and chest) infections, one of the most common infectious diseases across Europe. The primary aim of this study is to identify host and pathogen related determinants of disease severity of ARI. The study recruits adults who visit their GP due to respiratory infections and adults who need hospitalisation for similar infections.

Study design and recruitment

MERMAIDS is a large-scale, international, publically-funded pragmatic, multicentre, prospective observational study being conducted across various European countries concurrently, including in Ireland. Recruitment is taking place in general practices in each participating country from October to April over three years, with a target recruitment of 2,000 patients.

What does participation involve?

Patients presenting with acute respiratory infections at general practices and hospitals involved in the trial who agree to participate in this study will have blood samples and nasopharyngeal swabs taken by a doctor/nurse on the day they are recruited and follow up samples taken on days 2 and 28.

For more information

This research has been organised by the University of Oxford, UK and is being funded by the European Commission Funding Programme 7. This study is being delivered as a work package of the Platform for European Preparedness Against (Re-) emerging Epidemics (PREPARE) consortium grant. PREPARE is a network for the rapid and efficient delivery of harmonised, large-scale clinical research studies on infectious diseases. The Health Research Board, Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland is coordinating the Irish component of the trial.