Bioterror System to Monitor Swine Flu Spread

Monitors collect data electronically

Medical surveillance systems originally developed to detect bioterrorism have recently been put to a more practical task: tracking the swine flu pandemic.

Ever since the virus was first discovered, health officials in New York have been using the high tech tools to look for clues as to where and how fast the virus is spreading.

The monitors work by collecting data electronically from hospital emergency rooms on the number of patients coming in with flu-like symptoms.

The systems were initially deployed to help authorities quickly detect unusual increases in the number of patients turning up with illnesses possibly caused by biological weapons.

Over time, authorities also began using them to monitor more mundane illnesses, like flu.

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