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Using the HealthMap Disease Monitoring Technology

written by: MandaSpring • edited by: Anurag Ghosh • updated: 2/10/2011

HealthMap is a useful disease monitoring tool. Learn more about this new surveillance system that tracks disease outbreaks across the globe.

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    Monitoring Disease Outbreaks

    Using technology to map outbreaks is a fine reality. There are now virtual maps that display diseases and outbreaks in regions around the world. This means safer travel, less risk of a more wide spread outbreak, which in turns means saving lives.

    HealthMap was designed for this purpose and has gotten a lot of attention. ABC news, The Discovery Channel, The Washington Post and Computerworld are just a few of the many media sources that are talking about this life saving technology.

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    Features of HealthMap

    HealthMap updates every hour to display current global conditions of infectious diseases. But, this is not the only feature to HealthMap. It also provides valuable information on the effects that the outbreak has on human, as well as animal, health. Using Google Maps, HealthMap displays yellow, orange, or red (or any shade in between) icons in the specific area the outbreak has occurred. Clicking on a symbol shows the recent stories from that area involving the disease or outbreak. You can filter the results shown on the interactive map by selecting and unselecting what diseases to show on the map.

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    How Accurate is HealthMap?

    “So far the program can accurately determine the validity of a report about 95 percent of the time, sometimes days before the World Health Organization or the Centers of Disease Control announce disease outbreaks," says Eric Bland of Discovery News (Discovery Channel)

    “HealthMap is the first real-time disease alert that conveys facts graphically rather than verbally—a comprehensive and dynamic portrait of the world’s well-being. Viewers can scan cities, countries, or continents for hourly updated reports," explains an article in The Journal of Life Sciences written by Madeline Drexler.

    HealthMap is a scientifically proven resource that accurately pin points and then anticipates the outbreak patterns and regions.

    During a major salmonella outbreak, in the United States of America, Healthmap detected the outbreak before the CDC (Center for Disease Control) had reported anything on the subject. This specific outbreak had made more than a thousand people sick.

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    Disease Monitoring as a Preventative Measure

    As you can plainly see this is a prime example of modern technology merging with disease prevention. By monitoring outbreaks in this way the public is able to see ‘hotspots’ where there are reported cases of any given disease.

    This ground breaking leap in technology paves the way for future breakthroughs. It is an electronic recording that is also in league with health surveillance teams and disease centers from around the world. The information sharing age has produced a reliable way for everyone to track regions that may affect them. For traveling reasons, family concerns, etc. people have an option to learn more before putting themselves in a potentially dangerous area.