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.

    Steve Baragona

    Steve Baragona is an award-winning multimedia journalist covering science, environment and health.

    He spent eight years in molecular biology and infectious disease research before deciding that writing about science was more fun than doing it. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in journalism in 2002.

    You May Like

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    City could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters

    Turkey Aims New Crackdown at Journalists, Academics, Airline Workers

    Ankara continues targeting people allegedly linked to exiled cleric, who it says led the failed military coup

    Pakistan Ready to Inaugurate Rebuilt Afghan Border Crossing

    Construction of Torkham Gate triggered deadly clashes between Pakistani and Afghan military forces

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora