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FluPhone Tracks “Super Spreaders” Of Disease

“Are you a super-spreader?” That’s the catchphrase for a new study out of the University of Cambridge. However, if you answered “yes”, you may want to stay home and cover your mouth, because the study was designed to track the spread of influenza using cellular phone technology.

The study (and accompanying app) is called FluPhone, and it uses cell phones to collect information on social encounters within the study sample of participants in Cambridge. A phone’s Bluetooth antenna detects encounters with other participants and also records the proximity to each other. The built-in GPS chip tracks each user’s location, but this feature was disabled due to recent ethical concerns. Finally, the phone’s 3G/GPRS antenna sends all the proximity data automatically back to researchers for analysis. Other features include the ability to program a specific disease model by introducing a virtual “pathogen” which can be transmitted via Bluetooth when at least two users are near each other.

In addition to revealing useful data about the spread of disease and how to minimize its effects, the study could also be helpful for creating more effective public health messages.

More from the University of Cambridge: FluPhone: disease tracking by app…

Research project page…

FluPhone participant website…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*


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