Researchers at the University of Rochester in the US have developed an mHealth app, called Node, that can be used to track the spread of Ebola and other infectious diseases.

Node is envisioned to help healthcare workers monitor location patterns, people’s habits and resources; leading to improved monitoring of Ebola and awareness of disease prevention.

Research associate at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Solomon Abiola, developed the idea for the app during his undergraduate studies at Princeton University as a way of monitoring meningitis amongst students. “I was in Nigeria when they declared their first Ebola case and I thought that this app could have some potential for monitoring the spread of the disease,” said Abiola.

Through a $130,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, the researchers plan to use the app in a pilot study involving over 100 people in mid-2015 in Nigeria. The researchers plan to find out how good the app would be at monitoring any future outbreaks of Ebola or another disease, such as TB or malaria, compared to more traditional epidemiology models.

“The app will ask you questions like ‘how do you feel this morning? Do you have a fever?’ and if you have a fever it would tell you to come in and get screened,” said Abiola. “Instead of waiting, you can then get in front of a healthcare worker, preventing the spread of the disease to your family or anyone else you encounter.”

Potential collaborators in Nigeria include President of the Nigerian Academy of Sciences, Professor Oyewale Tomori, and Director of Research at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Professor Olaoluwa Akinwale. Students at the University of Lagos are also currently aiding in the initial testing of the app.

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