Regular readers know that I participate in - and try to promote - Flu Near You, an interactive website where thousands of volunteers from around the nation quickly update whether they've experienced `flu-like' symptoms once a week.
Flu Near You is a partnership between HealthMap (healthmap.org), Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Skoll Global Threats Fund.
Participation is easy. Once a week you receive an email with a link. Click on it, and you will be presented with a quick questionnaire (see above), where hopefully you'll only have to select to top item.
The results are used to produce real-time maps of flu-like activity.
Today Flu Near You has added categories of Zika Symptoms to their weekly questionnaire. Their email today advises:
Important note regarding Zika virus: In light of emerging health threats in the United States--including mosquito-borne diseases like the Zika virus--we are adding additional symptoms for our volunteers to report on. These symptoms include rash, eye pain, red eyes, joint pain, yellow skin / eyes, and dark urine and will allow researchers and public health authorities to identify potential outbreaks of disease like Zika, Chikungunya, and Dengue fever. Note, this change will only be reflected on our website and not our mobile apps, as we pilot these new features.
While I'm hoping that Zika (and CHKV and DENV) won't have enough of an impact on those living in the continental United States to show up on this kind of surveillance, this is an interesting idea and might produce some valuable results.
Flu Near You's primary function - tracking ILIs - is a worthwhile endeavor, only takes a few seconds each week, and I highly recommend people consider taking part.