RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Now that students are back in school, many things are shared in the classroom, including germs. Adults teach children that handwashing is a great defense against those germs, and now there's an app that can be another tool in the fight to stay healthy.
The Sickweather app and website uses a patent-pending algorithm to scan social media mentions of disease symptoms then tracks the illnesses on a map so users can see what's going around in the area.
"It's just like a Doppler radar for sickness," explained Sickweather CEO Graham Dodge.
"We track 38 different illnesses from allergies to whooping cough. There are some things we don't track, currently, we don't track measles and mumps things like that because of low incidence rate," Dodge said.
Dodge says the app is geared toward parents with young children, especially school-aged children, so parents can see what kids may be walking into and make healthier decisions for their family.
"It's almost like a prediagnostic tool," Dodge said. "It should be your first glance, your first defense to see what's going around so you can know and be prepared and see if it is something you should take them to the doctor for. That kind of information is really valuable to working parents."
The Sickweather app collects data in real time allowing developers to forecast ahead 15 weeks in advance according to Dodge. The app is already tracking flu cases in Shreveport, Louisiana.
"So, we already know what the onset week of flu season is going to be in the U.S," Dodge said.
"It's looking like it will be an earlier flu season than normal and we're looking at a more severe October than we saw last year. So, anyone who is thinking of getting a flu shot or other precautions should do that right away because flu season is already upon us," Dodge said.