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New online tool lets everyone track epidemic outbreaks

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London: Researchers have developed a free, real-time epidemic visualisation and tracking platform that can be used to monitor outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and antibiotic-resistant microbes.

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The cloud-based system called ‘Microreact’ combines open data and web to provide real-time global data sharing and visualisation, said the team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Imperial College London.


“Microreact allows everyone to explore the information dynamically — across both time and space — letting them see the whole picture. Microreact takes disease tracking out the hands of a privileged few and gives it to everyone who wants to understand disease evolution,” said David Aanensen, one of Microreact’s creators.

The researchers gathered data from almost 2,000 samples of Salmonella Typhi bacteria in 63 countries and concluded that a new drug-resistant strain emerged in Asia and had spread across that continent and into Africa.

“Microreact allows data and metadata sets to be uploaded through a web browser, which can then be visualised, shared and published in a research paper through a permanent web link,” the researchers said.