Crawling the Internet to track infectious disease outbreaks
Could Internet discussion forums, listservs, and online news outlets be an informative source of information on disease outbreaks? A team of researchers from Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School thinks so, and it has launched a real-time, automated data-gathering system called HealthMap to gather, organize and disseminate this online intelligence. They describe their project in this week's PLoS Medicine. "Web-based electronic information sources," say John Brownstein and colleagues from the HealthMap project, "can play an important role in early event detection and support situational awareness by providing current, highly local information about outbreaks, even from areas relatively invisible to traditional global public health efforts."
However, information overload and difficulties in distinguishing "signal from noise" pose substantial barriers to fully using this information. To overcome these problems, the authors created the freely accessible HealthMap Project (www.healthmap.org), which they describe as a "multistream real-time surveillance platform that continually aggregates reports on new and ongoing infectious disease outbreaks." These reports are organized and disseminated in a variety of ways, including creating disease maps and "situational awareness windows."
Ultimately, say Brownstein and colleagues, the use of news media and other nontraditional sources of surveillance data can "facilitate early outbreak detection, increase public awareness of disease outbreaks prior to their formal recognition, and provide an integrated and contextualized view of global health information."
Source: Public Library of Science
- Online surveillance tools provide opportunity to support public healthThu, 7 May 2009, 18:57:07 EDT
- Canadian researchers study mass gatherings and risks of infectious disease threatsWed, 24 Feb 2010, 11:14:08 EST
- New iPhone app 'Outbreaks Near Me' locates H1N1 (swine flu), infectious diseasesTue, 1 Sep 2009, 12:15:31 EDT
- HealthMap surveillance efforts illustrate global epidemiology of H1N1 spreadThu, 6 May 2010, 11:51:31 EDT
- Risks of sharing personal genetic information online need more study, Stanford bioethicists sayFri, 5 Jun 2009, 4:29:30 EDT
- Crawling The Internet To Track Infectious Disease Outbreaksfrom Science DailyTue, 8 Jul 2008, 9:21:17 EDT
- Crawling the Internet to track infectious disease outbreaksfrom PhysorgTue, 8 Jul 2008, 4:07:20 EDT
- Crawling the Internet to track infectious disease outbreaksfrom Biology News NetTue, 8 Jul 2008, 2:14:18 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Outlook is grim for mammals and birds as human population grows
- Mars had oxygen-rich atmosphere 4,000 million years ago
- The contribution of particulate matter to forest decline
- Scientists find new source of versatility so 'floppy' proteins can get things done
- An environmentally friendly battery made from wood
- Even with defects, graphene is strongest material in the world
- Detection of the cosmic gamma ray horizon: Measures all the light in the universe since the Big Bang
- Genetic engineering alters mosquitoes' sense of smell
- Allosaurus fed more like a falcon than a crocodile, new study finds
- 'Popcorn' particle pathways promise better lithium-ion batteries