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Researchers Track World Cup Fever (Literally)10:56

This article is more than 9 years old.
The HealthMap lets researchers and users track diseases around the world.
The HealthMap lets researchers and users track diseases around the world.

Most of the U.S. soccer team is flying home today after the 2-1 loss this weekend to Ghana. And many U.S. soccer fans will likely follow, carrying with them wounded spirits, a hope for a different outcome four years from now and maybe more than a few vuvuzelas.

But a group of researchers in Boston will be watching to see if the returning travelers are bringing home something else they picked up on their trip: globe-trotting diseases.

Researchers from MIT and Boston Children's Hospital launched a special World Cup edition of their real-time disease-tracking program, HealthMap, which tracks and aggregates thousands of newspaper and public health websites to monitor outbreaks.

In the lead-up to the month-long soccer tournament, they have been watching to see if mumps from the UK or swine flu from India will show up in Johannesburg, and they'll be watching to see if outbreaks of Rift Valley fever in South Africa will head the other direction.

We talk with the HealthMap cofounders about this new form of epidemiology.


  • Dr. John Brownstein, HealthMap cofounder, Harvard Medical School professor
  • Clark Freifeld, HealthMap cofounder, Ph.D. student at MIT's Media Lab

This program aired on June 28, 2010.

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