home
RSS
Tracking infectious disease on Twitter
January 10th, 2012
10:34 AM ET

Tracking infectious disease on Twitter

Haitians started dying of cholera just 10 months after the country's devastating earthquake. Researchers say health ministries might have responded more quickly had they seen evidence of the unfolding epidemic in an unlikely place: Twitter.

Putting all publicly-available tweets with the word "cholera" and the hashtag "#cholera" on a timeline, researchers at Harvard Medical School were able to show a surge in cholera-related tweets early in the epidemic. The timeline correlates closely with later health-ministry tallies.

The researchers used tweets from around the world - 65,728 total with the word "cholera" - that were sent between October 20 and November 3, 2010, including those that came from aid organizations and/or media outlets in Haiti and elsewhere.

The goal is to someday harness the immediacy of social media and use it to make better decisions early on about where to deploy public health resources, said Professor John Brownstein of Children's Hospital Boston and co-founder of HealthMap.org, which aggregates global information about infectious diseases.

"You don't have a lot of data about what's happening in the population early on -  even in the best of situations, even in the U.S., but especially in Haiti. So the idea is what other health information can you draw on to make assessments of the impact of the disease?" said Brownstein.

"So in this case, what we were able to show -  and this is retrospectively of course -  is that utilizing this data that's coming out from these news and social media we can begin to understand the impact. Depending on how transmissible the strain is, it impacts what types of prevention that you do."

So far, there's no replacement for the traditional chain-of-command structure of public health that tallies and reports case numbers in an epidemic, but social media could be another tool in the toolbox for decision makers.

The next step is figuring out how it could work in real-time, instead of in hindsight.

"We found that there was better correlation between the social media and the official case numbers early on," said Rumi Chunara, a research fellow at HealthMap.

The tweets didn't coincide uniformly to official health numbers, but there were periods of time when they corresponded best - such as the first incident of the outbreak and then a hurricane which passed by Haiti a few weeks after the cholera epidemic began.

Cholera brings about a painful death, as quickly as within two to three hours, because of the amount of fluid and electrolytes that are lost. Symptoms are watery diarrhea, dehydration, nausea and vomiting.

The bacterial disease  spreads through contaminated water. While it has largely been eradicated in the West, it has been known to come back during war or natural disasters when people are forced to live in crowded places without proper sanitation and clean water.

As of mid-December 2011, cholera had killed 7,000 people and infected 520,000 in Haiti, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

Medical workers continue to encounter about 200 new cases everyday, said Dr. Jon Andrus, deputy director of PAHO, which is part of the World Health Organization.

The best way to prevent cholera is to get clean water and better sanitation. Immediate treatment for the disease is necessary through re-hydration, intravenous fluids, antibiotics and zinc supplements.


soundoff (930 Responses)
  1. RV Repair Mission Viejo

    Good article. I certainly love this website. Thanks!

    http://engine.pitchengine.com/v1/util/link?i=eyJjYXRlZ29yeSI6IlBpdGNoTGluayIsImFjdGlvbiI6Ii92MS9waXRjaGVzL2ZiM2QzNWI3LTc3NjAtNGUxOC1hYWU5LTM1YmNhYzdlOTQ4ZCIsInZhbHVlIjoiaHR0cDovL3d3dy5waW5rbGFiZWxiZWF1dHkuY29tIn0=&l=http://ocrvcenter.com

    June 28, 2021 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Sprinter Van Collision Repair

    https://painel.odara.com.br/emailmarketing/campain/click?uid=0DHW80SjYatjGiCSkwyN2eeKdSd8HVv+iJnWZVl/UoM=&cid=6xe1ewmLWczb+HUGaeYvZAuCLGYFZNNJzds0ln/P/TA=&eid=URUSXf7/enbQ6EQ5gwS9413gHiXe/igU+f2AK4l3b1g=&url=https://www.ocrvshop.com

    June 28, 2021 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. www.pharmaceptica.com

    hydroxychlorquine https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 28, 2021 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. High Roof Sprinter Repair Panels

    https://intranet.secure.griffith.edu.au/s/redirect?rank=10&collection=on-campus-search&url=http://www.ocrvempire.com/

    June 28, 2021 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. pharmaceptica.com

    what is tadalafil https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 28, 2021 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    http://nude-virgins.info/cgi-bin/out.cgi?ses=JLNVCWg7tj&id=393&url=http://ocrv.mobi/

    June 28, 2021 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. E 150 Van Power Window Repair

    Great web site you've got here.. Itís hard to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    http://svadba.eventnn.ru/redir.php?link=https://ocrv.guru

    June 28, 2021 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you so much, However I am having issues with your RSS. I donít know why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting the same RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    https://store.law.com/linkredirector/default.asp?lrcat=BLOGNetwork&lrurl=https://www.orangecountyrvrepair.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 01:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    I could not refrain from commenting. Very well written!

    https://www.anonym.to/?https://ocrv.me

    June 29, 2021 at 02:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. pharmaceptica.com

    sildenafil citrate 100mg pills https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 03:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Repair Sprinter

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up and the rest of the site is extremely good.

    http://www.activecabarete.com/links/index.php?https://ocrv.rocks/

    June 29, 2021 at 03:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sprinter Blower Fan Repair Near Me

    http://login.mediafort.ru/autologin/mail/?code=14844x02ef859015x290299&url=http://ocrvluxurycoaches.com

    June 29, 2021 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Repair Mission Viejo

    https://pt-br.paltalk.com/client/webapp/client/External.wmt?url=https://www.ocrv.fun/

    June 29, 2021 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Camper Repair Near Me

    Great article! We will be linking to this particularly great content on our website. Keep up the great writing.

    https://www.metalmecanica.com/ClicksBS?iddb=96901&cb=Portal&tb=BP&idb=278&ns=StandarBanners&co=StandarBanner&idd=&ide=296655&ud=https://ocrvexperts.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Repair Huntington Beach

    https://bugcrowd.com/external_redirect?site=http://ocrvcenter.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Repairs Near My Location

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?

    http://yellowpages.therolladailynews.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.biz

    June 29, 2021 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Camper Repairs Near Me

    http://localbusiness.jdnews.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=orangecountyrvrepair.com

    June 29, 2021 at 18:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Repair Shop

    https://mmtro.com/c?tagid=6578518-ff61896347e7e75b4610266efbf077f0&idc=111299&rtgdevice=web&redir=http://orangecountyrvrepair.com

    June 29, 2021 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe this website needs far more attention. Iíll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the info!

    http://www.floridafilmofficeinc.com/?goto=http://ocrv.pro/

    June 29, 2021 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Rv Maintenance Shop

    http://cdiabetes.com/redirects/offer.php?URL=http://customcampervans.com

    June 29, 2021 at 19:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Mercedes Sprinter Van Service Near Me

    You are so interesting! I don't suppose I've truly read through anything like this before. So nice to discover somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is something that's needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

    http://www.sweetpaulmag.com/Redirect.aspx?destination=https://sprintervanrepair.com

    June 29, 2021 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Repair Shops Nearby

    http://productinfo.kemppi.com/showroom/open-kemppi-video.php?lang=en&v=arcquality_video1&video=http://ocrv.life

    June 29, 2021 at 21:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Dodge Sprinter Mechanic

    You are so cool! I do not suppose I've read through a single thing like this before. So nice to discover someone with genuine thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that's needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

    https://www.kronenberg.org/download.php?download=https://www.fleetservicerepairshop.com/&filename=rpn-calculator_0.9.0.wdgt.zip&project=RPN-Calculator

    June 29, 2021 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Repair Orange County California

    A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I think that you ought to publish more about this issue, it may not be a taboo matter but usually people do not speak about these issues. To the next! Best wishes!!

    http://regards.com/redirect.cfm?code=site&d=FC79921988&HP_URL=http://ocrvcenter.org/

    June 30, 2021 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. pharmaceptica.com

    erectile anxiety https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 30, 2021 at 03:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    http://mailstreet.com/redirect.asp?url=http://fleettruckrepairshop.com/

    June 30, 2021 at 04:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Repair Near Me Now

    The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I genuinely believed you would have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you could possibly fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.

    https://triathlon.org/?URL=www.ocrvcenter.co/

    June 30, 2021 at 04:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Nercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your website is useful. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://www.romhacking.ru/go?https://commercialvanrepairshop.com

    June 30, 2021 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    Good article. I am going through some of these issues as well..

    http://www.richardsbros.co.uk/NavigationMenu/SwitchView?Mobile=False&ReturnUrl=https://ocrvexperts.com/

    June 30, 2021 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.