Saturday, February 06, 2016

Congratulations To FluTrackers For 10 Years Of Tracking Infectious Diseases


Today is the 10th anniversary of the opening of FluTrackers, a flu forum comprised of dedicated volunteers who spend countless hours finding, translating, posting and analyzing infectious disease items from sources all over the world. 

I've said it before, but it deserves repeating, I couldn't cover near the territory I have in this blog were it not for the hardworking newshounds of FluTrackers.

They perform difficult, exacting, sometimes mind-numbing work.  Particularly when dealing with languages like Arabic or Chinese.  

`Bird Flu' in Arabic is انفلونزا الطيور - in Bahasan, it is `Flu Burung' - and in Turkish it is kuş gribi.   Bird flu in Chinese (simplified) is 禽流感 (the "Birds and beasts flu")

Newshounds literally have lists of dozens of words and phrases in each language they search on. 

In Chinese, `Unexplained fever'  is  不明原因的发烧.

As you can see, just finding the articles that need to be translated is a major undertaking.

They then use a variety of translation programs to turn Bahasan, or Arabic, or Chinese into some semblance of English.   Often, they will use more than one translation system, to try to get the most readable result.

And with 10 years experience, they have a very good understanding of the nuances of these translations, the history of previous outbreaks all over the world, and the credibility of the sources.

They not only find and translate these stories . . . . they make sense of them. 

Sharon Sanders, not only helms this endeavour, she curates the H5N1, H7N9, H5N6 and MERS line listings (see links below) - which are the most complete publicly available case listings on the Internet.   I know I, and many others, rely on these lists every day.

South Korea Coronavirus MERS Case List - including imported and exported cases - 2015 Outbreak

FluTrackers 2015 Egypt H5N1 Case List

FluTrackers H7N9 Case List

FluTrackers MERS Coronavirus Case List

FluTrackers Global H5N1 Case List

The amount of work Sharon and her team put in each and every day is simply staggering.

Their work isn't restricted to flu, either.  Newshounds often translate articles on Dengue, Typhoid, Malaria, Ebola, Crimean-Congo Fever, Rift Valley Fever, Nipah, Hendra, MERS-CoV, Zika, and other emerging infectious diseases.

As a result Flutrackers provides a categorized and searchable library of  practically everything of note that has been published on emerging infectious diseases for the past decade.

I'm very pleased to say that over the years Sharon and I have become very dear friends, and we talk practically every day (thank you Skype).  We kick around the latest news, bounce ideas off one another, and basically help keep each other from going off the rails.

I owe her, her ever patient husband Lance, and the whole team at FluTrackers a good deal of the credit for the success of my blog.  And I thank them for it.

So congratulations to Sharon and the entire FT team.  You should all be very proud of what you've accomplished. 

It's been a great 10 years, and I look forward to another 10.

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