Tracking H1N1 Influenza A Online

The last time a pandemic type flu hit the globe the public had to rely solely on public health officials. The times have changed with the Internet. It’s possible to track the spread of disease fairly easily with the right tools. The question is should we?
There’s a reason the experts are called expert. They have years of training that all the twits and online buzzes mean something to them. That’s not to say keeping aware of potential cases of H1N1 flu A isn’t something that the general public should stay away from either.

What the public should know is that many sites aren’t giving a real picture. Some are doing what they say they are such as Veratect. If you want to track the disease make sure the sources you are using are on the up and up. If they aren’t just supplying facts and offering opinions it may be a good idea to steer away from them.

Because I have been covering the story for Digital Journal I am tracking the cases and scope of the illness with a few Twitter sites. WHO, the CDC and Veratect appear to have the most up-to-date information on the social network Twitter.

Another source is healthmap a Boston company created by Clark Freifeld and John Brownstein that is tracking the virus. It is offered in several languages and is easy to read and navigate. The company is funded by and has the support of CIHR, NLM and the CDC. The system collects reports from 17 sources, which extract information from
over 20,000 websites, every hour, 24 hours a day. The system collects an
average of 300 reports per day.

Healthmap works with local health departments, government agencies and multi-national agencies to give an up to day view of the world concerning this outbreak.


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