Prevent flu by tracking H1N1 through mobile apps


iphoneiPhone is the new toy in town and has become extremely popular and powerful tool because of thousands of application software or called iPhone apps in short.  iPhone apps was developed for tracking flu by a non profit HealthMap called “Outbreaks Near me”.  This iPhone apps can find location of H1N1 outbreak in your state or the region of your interest and gives the best ways to avoid it.  More than that the apps for H1N1 virus comes in handy in finding the availability of swine flu vaccine in your area and can pull up news about some of the people who were afflicted by swine flu and their well being.   

appHow does Outbreak Near me works?
Outbreaks Near me works like a GPS and provides real time information about H1N1 outbreak. As you request information through Outbreak Near me, it finds your location and displays pushpins on the map of near by area pertaining to H1N1 outbreak and other infections.  A simple click on the pushpin will give news reports and personal accounts submitted by users.  You can set up alert system to get a heads-up of the H1N1 flu case in your area, as it arrives.

John Brownstein, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Children’s hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School developed the apps in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab.  Dr. Brownstein said that “Our app is all about giving people real-time alerts. We didn’t develop this to increase fear. It’s about helping people arm themselves.” 

How many people have used Outbreak Near me?
Outbreaks Near Me was launched in Sept. 1.  As per Dr. Brownstein, about 100,000 people have downloaded it. The apps can also be used for tracking E. coli, malaria and other outbreaks, but H1N1 has been the most popular tracked disease, which is expected given its epidemic nature.  It was interesting to read that apps has received more than 2,000 submissions and Dr. Brownstein said “People share thier photos while they are sick and inform others when schools are closed or shortage of vaccine in their area. 

Outbreak-near-me-iphoneIs Outbreak near me more useful...

than CDC website?

Influenza expert William Schaffner, chair of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville said that apps will give you more focused information and for bigger picture, majority of people may get information from traditional way such as CDC reports.  He adds, if you want to know what’s happening at your grandma’s place while you are planning to spend your weekend or Christmas time at her place, apps may be more efficient way to look for information.

Outbreaks Near Me co-developer Clark Freifeld, a graduate student in media art and sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says developers are analyzing submissions now and say the information appears to correlate with CDC data.  

Are there more apps similar to Outbreak near me?
Harvard Medical School has developed more flu related apps including HMSMobile Swine flu center.  Others include flu games and jokes such as Swine Scan, Microsoft online tool, which supposedly scans your body to detect infection.  There are several other applications for iPhone and Google Android apps are in prototype stage, which are using mobile text messaging.  CDC is in phase of implementation of one of such apps and to sign up text HEALTH to 87000 and a mobile website (
and get flu updates.

This would not have been possible in Roman times, wherein news would have spread through people travelling on horses. Dissemination of information through mobile phones is booming and is supposed to be next growth engine of the web technology.  I hope either you are already using mobile technology for various needs or are planning to get connected to the world through a small piece of handset. 

Healthy Mobiling!



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