Saturday, February 09, 2013

The CDC’s Solve The Outbreak App



# 6918


The disease detectives at the CDC are the investigators at the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS).  EIS officers conduct epidemiologic investigations, research, and public health surveillance both in the United States and around the world.


Maryn McKenna’s 2004 book, Beating Back The Devil, provided a fascinating inside look at their operations, and is well worth digging up a copy.


A couple of days ago the CDC released an iPad app called Solve the Outbreak which lets you take on the role of a an EIS trainee, and conduct your own disease outbreak investigations.


Do you want to be a disease detective?

This application will allow you to interact with and solve a disease outbreak. You will think like an officer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS). Each outbreak will include a series of clues that will ask you to guess the cause of the outbreak along the way, earning points for each answer. At the end of the outbreak, you will be awarded a badge based on your efforts: Trainee, Apprentice, Investigator, and the highest award, Disease Detective. The app provides a game-like interface and works to incorporate tips and definitions along the way, to make learning about epidemiology fun. Outbreaks may be fictional or based of a real event that CDC employees have worked on.

Check out these fun features:

  • Learn more about the work CDC does.
  • Solve mysterious outbreaks the EIS way.
  • Increase your knowledge of diseases and outbreaks.
  • A fun interactive way to learn about epidemiology.
  • Share your success at solving outbreaks on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Review data and epi-curves outlining how the outbreak spread.
  • Work quickly and save lives.

Download it free today
Available on the App Store



I downloaded this app yesterday and spent a few minutes with it this morning, running through the first outbreak scenario (three are included).



While game play is limited (I ran thru the first scenario - undoubtedly the easiest - in about 10 minutes), this app does a nice job of illustrating the thought processes and epidemiological techniques used in outbreak investigations. 


There are short tutorials included, a glossary, and links to additional information available online from the CDC.


All of which makes this both a fun and educational app for anyone with an interest in epidemiology. Its biggest shortcoming is only having three outbreak puzzles to solve, but perhaps if it proves a popular download, they’ll release an update with more.


NOTE: Upon further review (I finished all three scenarios) the app indicates that additional outbreaks will be released.

No comments: