The news coming out of West Africa seems to get grimmer by the day. More than 1,500 people have died and another 3,000 are estimated to have been infected. The World Health Organization has estimated that the epidemic could infect up to 20,000 people before its brought under control.
In the face of this unfolding health tragedy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ramped up vital software development for health workers. A team inside CDC is working hard to fine-tune a suite of lightweight software called Epi Info, for use by epidemiologists and front-line health workers to fight the spread of infectious diseases like Ebola.
According to Federal Times, the roots of Epi Info go all the way back to the 1980s. First designed for desktop use, the software has been updated to function in new mobile and cloud-based environments. As such, it has become a much more powerful tool for health works who need to collect data with hand-held devices, share that information, learn and collaborate more quickly and save more lives.
To that end, the CDC has helped develop a new application for the suite, the Epi Info Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Outbreak Management application. This application is specifically designed to aid in the very difficult task of disease detection and modeling.
This process entails finding everyone who was exposed to, and possibly infected, by someone with Ebola or another contagious disease. This critical action is called contact tracing, and when done effectively can breaking the chain of disease transmission and thereby end an outbreak. Workers can access virus transmission diagrams to visualize the pattern of an outbreak spread, and leverage automated tools that speed the data analysis process dramatically.
This work providing the tools to fight the Ebola outbreak is why the CDC is our GovTransformer for this week. Check in regularly for our ongoing coverage of federal executives and agencies that are truly transforming how they support mission goals through the effective use of IT.