Ebola’s Spread Is Being Tracked by Mobile Media

WHO, eHealth develop digital responses

The first confirmed death of an Ebola patient in Texas has prompted some health organizations to turn to the power of mobile media to help contain the virus at its source.

For instance, eHealth, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based nonprofit, is using a phone app to combat the deadly virus in Nigeria, and Bloomberg reports that the effort appears to be working. Phones that are loaded with the Android app allow Nigerian health workers to reduce the reporting time of people exposed to Ebola by uploading information to databases. The app also uses GPS to help health officials monitor the progress of treating those who were exposed by tracking them to suspect carriers.

Finding out who suspected carriers come into contact with is a key way of containing the virus, which has reportedly killed 3,865 people, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The eHealth phones are, per Bloomberg, going to be shipped to such countries hit by the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Nigerian health officials say they have successfully contained the virus after a two-month campaign of monitoring via the phone app. The country hopes to be declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization by month’s end.

And social media evidently played a key role in helping to contain the virus in Nigeria. Ebola Alert, a group of volunteers, has been using Facebook and Twitter to educate Nigerians about the illness.

In addition, the World Health Organization is using Twitter to educate health workers and others globally about preventing the spread of the disease.