Google, Unicef to work together to map spread of Zika virus


Volunteer Google engineers in San Francisco and NY are working with UNICEF counterparts to create a system that combines several types of data to help predict where the Aedes aegypti mosquito might next be particularly active, helping in eradication efforts.

Google is taking steps to combat the spread of Zika in Brazil and throughout Latin America.
The company said that the goal of the open source platform was to identify the risk of Zika transmission for different regions and help UNICEF, governments and NGOs decide how and where to focus their time and resources.
“This means that fighting Zika requires raising awareness on how people can protect themselves, as well as supporting organizations who can help drive the development of rapid diagnostics and vaccines”, she said.
This type of mosquito is not quite as efficient at transmitting Zika virus, but both are aggressive daytime biters, in addition ti the usual dusk-to-night biters.
Common symptoms of the Zika virus include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, according to the CDC.
Cuba has detected the first case of Zika in a Venezuelan doctor who came to the island for postgraduate studies, the health ministry said Wednesday.
Since a year ago, the Zika virus has ravaged through South America and there are now cases of it popping up around the world. Since November, Google has seen a 3,000 percent increase in the amount of global search interest in Zika. Unlike other global pandemics, the spread of Zika has been harder to identify, map and contain, Google’s Fuller said.
The Health Ministry said that authorities were investigating whether the virus had been transmitted to the woman through unprotected sex or whether a mosquito could have entered New Zealand in the man’s luggage and bitten the woman. The aim of the partnership between Unicef and Google is to get ahead of the Zika virus before it gets through to more locations in order to try and stop it while it’s still possible.
Google already offers information for more than 900 health conditions directly on Search for those in the USA, and now the company has added an overview of the Zika virus, symptom information, and Public Health Alerts globally in 16 languages. The data will be updated as new information becomes available, Fuller said. In 2008, the company launched Google Flu Trends, where it attempted to use search query data and flu tracking information from the CDC to estimate the prevalence of the flu in specific areas well ahead of the actual outbreak.