News / USA

New Technology Used to Track US Flu Outbreak

New Technology Used to Track US Flu Outbreaki
X
January 14, 2013 12:38 AM
As influenza season peaks in the United States, one researcher is working to bring the public into tracking the epidemic. Using new technology, he may be able to provide public health officials with useful information more quickly than the usual methods. And he is applying the new tools to study disease outbreaks around the world. VOA's Steve Baragona has more from Boston.
New Technology Used to Track US Flu Outbreak
As influenza season peaks in the United States, one researcher is working to bring the public into tracking the epidemic.  Using new technology, he may be able to provide public health officials with useful information more quickly than the usual methods.  And he is applying the new tools to study disease outbreaks around the world.

Boston Children's Hospital epidemiologist John Brownstein is literally pinning down where the flu outbreak is occurring.  “All the pins represent the people who are reporting to the system," he said.

The sea of pins on his virtual U.S. map represents the nationwide network of volunteers for his website, Flu Near You. "The idea is, getting people with a small amount of time each week to tell us how they're feeling," he said.

A short weekly email survey asks each person about his or her health. In just a few months, Flu Near You has recruited 40,000 volunteers and keeps growing.
 
Boston Children's Hospital epidemiologist John Brownstein (VOA / S. Baragona)Boston Children's Hospital epidemiologist John Brownstein (VOA / S. Baragona)
x
Boston Children's Hospital epidemiologist John Brownstein (VOA / S. Baragona)
Boston Children's Hospital epidemiologist John Brownstein (VOA / S. Baragona)
“So we say, putting the public back in public health," said Brownstein.

Hospitals and doctors' offices were seeing rising numbers of flu cases in late December, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.  But Brownstein says he is ahead of the others in terms of information.

“And Flu Near You is showing that we've already peaked and are heading down.  And in fact the latest numbers that are coming out from the CDC actually agree that this has already come down," he said.

Oddelio Reid fills out paperwork before getting an influenza vaccine injection during a flu shot clinic at Dorchester House, a health care clinic, in Boston, Massachusetts January 12, 2013.Oddelio Reid fills out paperwork before getting an influenza vaccine injection during a flu shot clinic at Dorchester House, a health care clinic, in Boston, Massachusetts January 12, 2013.
x
Oddelio Reid fills out paperwork before getting an influenza vaccine injection during a flu shot clinic at Dorchester House, a health care clinic, in Boston, Massachusetts January 12, 2013.
Oddelio Reid fills out paperwork before getting an influenza vaccine injection during a flu shot clinic at Dorchester House, a health care clinic, in Boston, Massachusetts January 12, 2013.
Brownstein plans to take the system global and expand it to other diseases.

He currently runs another website, HealthMap, that for seven years has tracked outbreaks worldwide.

He says as a graduate student he grew weary of begging health ministers for information. “And so we had this idea, well, what if we mined the Web looking for clues about outbreaks via news, social media, blogs, chat rooms, discussion forums," he said.

In Haiti's deadly 2010 cholera outbreak, HealthMap's automated Web searches provided early information on the trajectory of the disease.

Today, he is following an ebola outbreak in Uganda. “We think there's opportunities to really track emerging infectious diseases with these tools," he said.

Tools that pinpoint where diseases are occurring now.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More