HealthMap Gives Lowdown on Disease Outbreaks, Could Save Lives

Scientists are using the power of the web to track and find real disease outbreaks. Every hour, HealthMap, an infectious disease-tracking website, feeds off of news, public health list serves, and the World Health Organization's online pages to survey the spread of infections. With help from Google, the program has identified 95 percent of all disease outbreaks, sometimes days before the WHO or international disease control agencies can announce them.

Most recently, HealthMap detected the salmonella outbreak in the U.S., which has sickened over 1,000 people, long before the Center for Disease Control announced that it was happening. By alerting officials and doctors to the most likely diseases in their area, the web tool could help make health care much more efficient and precise. [Discovery]