Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Health Map Tracks Infectious Disease

Scientists are searching within the virtual world and finding real viruses.

Every hour, HealthMap, an infectious disease-tracking Web site, culls through news Web sites, public health list servs, the World Health Organization's online pages, and other Web sites in six different languages to pinpoint outbreaks of disease that real-world doctors can then act on.

"We were originally thinking about how we could expand disease surveillance and pick up outbreaks earlier than traditional methods," said John Brownstein of Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston, who created HealthMap in September of 2006 with Clark Friefeld, a software developer at Harvard Medical School.

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