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Twitter App Takes on Public Health

Healthcare IT News, Erin McCann, 09/14/2012

Twitter, the much beloved social networking site, is set to take on disease outbreaks, after HHSofficials announced the release of a new Web-based application tool available to public health officials.

Officials at HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) announced Friday the arrival of MappyHealth, the winning submission in a developers’ challenge, “Now Trending: #Health in My Community,” sponsored by ASPR.

Health officials say they can use data gained through the app to complement other health surveillance systems in identifying emerging health issues and as an early warning of possible public health emergencies in a community.

Currently, the top diseases being tracked by MappyHealth are the common cold, STIs, mosquito borne disease, pertussis, tuberculosis, influenza and gastroenteritis. Moreover, the top five locations for these disease-tracking tweets are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Orlando, Chicago and Los Angeles.