09 May, 2012

HealthMap: keeping track of diseases and their outbreak

Ever thought of how comforting it would be to know of any diseases or their outbreak out there? Especially when you are traveling? Well, there is a very useful and detailed free online site that just does that.
HealthMap a team of researchers, epidemiologists and software developers at Children's Hospital Boston founded in 2006, is an established global leader in utilizing online informal sources for disease outbreak monitoring and real-time surveillance of emerging public health threats. The freely available Web site 'healthmap.org' and mobile app 'Outbreaks Near Me' deliver real-time intelligence on a broad range of emerging infectious diseases for a diverse audience including libraries, local health departments, governments, and international travelers. HealthMap brings together disparate data sources, including online news aggregators, eyewitness reports, expert-curated discussions and validated official reports, to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health. Through an automated process, updating 24/7/365, the system monitors, organizes, integrates, filters, visualizes and disseminates online information about emerging diseases in nine languages, facilitating early detection of global public health threats.
Today, worldwide, there are more disease outbreaks of many types than at any time before. HealthMap helps not only governments and organizations to track such diseases, but individuals too. They bring together disparate data sources to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health. This freely available Web site integrates outbreak data of varying reliability, ranging from news sources (such as Google News) to curated personal accounts (such as ProMED) to validated official alerts (such as World Health Organization). Through an automated text processing system, the data is aggregated by disease and displayed by location for user-friendly access to the original alert. HealthMap provides a jumping-off point for real-time information on emerging infectious diseases and has particular interest for public health officials and international travelers.

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