iPad Users Can Solve Pub­lic Health Out­breaks

Wellness Update - - Health News -

AT­LANTA, Ga. – Sci­en­tists and gamers alike can now play disease de­tec­tive, through “Solve the Out­break,” a new iPad app from the Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion. The app lets users as­sume the role of a disease out­break in­ves­ti­ga­tor in the agency’s Epi­demic In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice (EIS) by nav­i­gat­ing three fic­tional out­breaks based on real-life events. Users get clues, re­view data, and make de­ci­sions to de­ter­mine the cause of the out­break.

“The goal is to use new tech­nol­ogy to pro­vide an en­gag­ing, in­ter­ac­tive way for users to learn how CDC solves out­breaks, thereby in­creas­ing gen­eral knowl­edge about real-life pub­lic health is­sues,” said CDC Di­rec­tor Dr. Tom Frieden. “This ap­pli­ca­tion al­lows us to il­lus­trate the chal­lenges of solv­ing out­breaks and how our disease de­tec­tives work on the front lines to save lives and pro­tect peo­ple 24/7.”

In the game, par­tic­i­pants also be­come fa­mil­iar with health tips, def­i­ni­tions and in­for­ma­tion about epi­demi­ol­ogy, which is a sci­ence used to in­ves­ti­gate out­breaks and to mon­i­tor pat­terns, causes and ef­fects of dis­eases on the pub­lic. Users ad­vance in rank as they earn points and can post their re­sults on Face­book and Twit­ter to chal­lenge other par­tic­i­pants.

“This is a great learn­ing tool for sci­ence teach­ers, teens, young adults, pub­lic health en­thu­si­asts and mys­tery lovers,” said Carol Craw­ford, branch chief, CDC’s Elec­tronic Me­dia Branch. “The three in­tro­duc­tory sce­nar­ios are based on ac­tual events EIS of­fi­cers have solved. We also plan to add new out­break cases.”

Es­tab­lished in the early 1950s, the EIS pro­gram re­cruits some of the most gifted physi­cians, sci­en­tists, health pro­fes­sion­als and vet­eri­nar­i­ans into a two year on the job train­ing pro­gram in epi­demi­ol­ogy. In ad­di­tion to their sci­en­tific, re­search, and sur­veil­lance work in pub­lic health, EIS of­fi­cers, also known as disease de­tec­tives, are ready at a moment’s no­tice to fly any­where in United States and around the world to in­ves­ti­gate mys­te­ri­ous disease out­breaks, nat­u­ral and man-made dis­as­ters, and other pub­lic health emer­gen­cies.

“The pub­lic no longer have to ex­pe­ri­ence an out­break in­ves­ti­ga­tion through fic­tional Hol­ly­wood films like Con­ta­gion,” Dr. Frieden said. “Users can now get their own first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing a disease de­tec­tive through this new ap­pli­ca­tion.”

Solve the Out­break ap­pli­ca­tion is avail­able in the iTunes store at: https://tunes.ap­ple.com/

US/app/id592485067.

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