Swine flu near you? New iPhone app caters to pathophobes

Pandemic!Sensationalism sells newspapers. And those raging headlines bombarding newsstands with reports on the most recent disease outbreaks are sort of magnetic.

But what happens when iTunes starts offering apps that immediately chronicle the newest pandemics by allowing anyone to submit health reports using what the organization has deemed “participatory epidemiology?”

On September 1, HealthMap released a bound-to-be hysteria-inducing free iPhone application that enables users to instantaneously share their pathogen fears with people around the world.

What is this, a hypochondriacal Twitter?

Said Clark Freifeld, one of HealthMap’s founders and a Ph.D. student in MIT Media Lab’s New Media Medicine Group: “It’s about empowering citizens in the cause of public health to both provide them with information and allow them to contribute information to share with others.”

And some ignoramuses thought newspapers were already outdated. At least papers know a disease hoax from a real outbreak.

Although it would be kind of cool to induce some worldly panic by submitting the first case of sheep flu from somewhere in Azerbaijan.

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