facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Study: Internet can track disease outbreak

Jan. 9, 2012 at 9:14 PM   |   Comments

BOSTON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Internet postings allowed the cholera epidemic after the January 2010 Haiti earthquake to be tracked more rapidly than traditional methods can, a report says.

Research published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene found data from "informal" media sources monitoring an outbreak of a disease in a resource-limited setting can yield reliable decision-making data during such outbreaks almost in real-time, the study authors said.

Data from such sources are often available far earlier than traditional surveillance methods that include surveys of hospitals and health clinics, they said.

"When we analyzed news and Twitter feeds from the early days of the epidemic in 2010, we found they could be mined for valuable information on the cholera outbreak that was available up to two weeks ahead of surveillance reports issued by the government health ministry," Rumi Chunara of the Informatics Program at Children's Hospital Boston said.

The researchers used an Internet tool called HealthMap to capture automatically any coverage or mentions of cholera from a variety of information sources -- including news media, blogs and discussion groups -- that occurred in the first 100 days of the outbreak.

"The techniques we employed eventually could be used around the world as an affordable and efficient way to quickly detect the onset of an epidemic and then intervene with such things as vaccines and antibiotics," said Chunara, a research fellow at Harvard Medical School.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Next week's lunar eclipse may feature the color turquoise Next week's lunar eclipse may feature the color turquoise
2
35,000 walruses haul out of ocean, crowd Alaskan shore 35,000 walruses haul out of ocean, crowd Alaskan shore
3
NASA satellite shows scope of Aral Sea disaster NASA satellite shows scope of Aral Sea disaster
4
Apple releases fix for 'Shellshock' virus Apple releases fix for 'Shellshock' virus
5
Social network Ello getting thousands of requests per hour Social network Ello getting thousands of requests per hour
Trending News
x
Feedback