iPhone app lets users avoid diseased neighbors

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The latest iPhone app gives users a chance to really indulge their paranoia.

MIT and the Children's Hospital Boston have launched an app that tracks and reports outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as H1N1 (swine flu), on the ground in real time.

The application, "Outbreaks Near Me," reports outbreaks locally and alerts users on the phone or by email when new cases are reported nearby, or if they wander into an affected area.

"We hope individuals will find the new app to be a useful source of outbreak information - locally, nationally, and globally," says John Brownstein, assistant professor in the Children's Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP). "As people are equipped with more knowledge and awareness of infectious disease, the hope is that they will become more involved and proactive about public health."

The new application also lets users report outbreaks themselves by submitting photos of disease-ridden situations. "This is grassroots, participatory epidemiology," said Clark Freifeld, a research software developer at CHIP.

It's available free from the iTunes App store. There's more information here.