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Students to wear tracking devices in new flu study

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About 450 southwestern Pennsylvania school students will be wearing electronic devices that will track how often they come in contact with one another at school — and on their day off during Election Day — to help researchers track how the flu may be spread among them.

The University of Pittsburgh's Social Mixing and Respiratory Transmission in Schools, or SMART, study was prompted by the H1N1 flu outbreak in 2009. Although older people are typically most affected by the flu, the 2009 outbreak was first detected in a 10-year-old California child.

The students in the Canon-McMillan School district will wear electronic motes around their neck that will track how often they come into contact with one another. Researchers hope that will help them figure out how children interact and how the flu could spread among them.

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