RealNews

Anti-terror software aids in flu watch

Technology that will alert health officials to bioterrorist attacks is being put to a more mundane — but just as important — use this winter: looking for flu outbreaks. Sedgwick County has joined Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Kansas City and some other Midwestern metropolitan areas in using the FirstWatch software to find patterns of symptoms that show up in calls to 911. The software produced a couple of false alarms this past weekend, said Cindy Burbach, director of health surveillance and disease prevention for the Sedgwick County Health Department. That’s part of what it is supposed to do: The software sounds an alert, via pager or cell phone, when calls reach a certain threshold, then humans look at the data to see what it means. In this case, “it was not picking up real flu; it was picking up flu symptoms,” she said. Full Story

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