Crowdsourcing is typically a way of getting input from a large group of people and using that input to improve whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. Yelp and Waze are two well-known online crowdsourcing applications.
Researchers at the University of Arizona are now using that ‘crowdsourcing’ approach to track the Zika virus by using a cell phone app. The University recently released a story about the app, which is called – Kidenga.
Kidenga is a community-based disease detection system which allows the team of public health investigators to track day-biting mosquito populations within a community and identify people who have symptoms of illness. The app also provides users with county-level confirmed case information, educational material and up-to-date news on mosquito activity.
Fierce Healthcare quoted Kacey Ernst, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the College of Public Health, as saying, “If enough people use the app, it may be able to detect ZIP codes that appear to have an uptick of suspicious symptoms. This early alert is critical to reduce or prevent further spread of the virus,” she stated, adding “with more information, we hope that more people will join the fight to control these mosquitoes.”
The data collected through the app can be shared with people here in Arizona as well as in Florida and Texas.
In a related story, the Pima County Health Department just introduced a new Zika hotline where people can reach healthcare providers to ask questions and get information about the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. The call center, a partnership with the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, is open 24 hours a day and can be reached by calling 1-877-518-4633.
All information received will be sent to the Pima County Health Department’s Epidemiology program for review and follow-up. The phone line is a single point resource for healthcare providers, first responders, laboratories, other public health agencies, and community partners can also use this phone line to report mosquito-borne diseases, Zika exposure evaluations, and other public health emergencies.
Let us know what you think about the work being done to make sure Arizonans have the information they need on the Zika virus. Working together to confront important health issues in our state is critical to our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!