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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid