Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

#FeelingSick: Can Twitter help better identify foodborne illness cases?

Date:
August 15, 2014
Source:
Washington University in St. Louis
Summary:
An estimated 55 million to 105 million people in the United States suffer from foodborne illnesses each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), resulting in costs of $2-$4 billion annually. What if Twitter could be used to track those cases and more quickly identify the source of the problem? A new analysis shows that new technology might better allow health departments to engage with the public to improve foodborne illness surveillance.

An estimated 55 million to 105 million people in the United States suffer from foodborne illnesses each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), resulting in costs of $2-$4 billion annually.

Related Articles


What if Twitter could be used to track those cases and more quickly identify the source of the problem?

A new analysis by a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis' Brown School and colleagues shows that new technology might better allow health departments to engage with the public to improve foodborne illness surveillance.

The results are published in the Aug. 15 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC.

Jenine Harris, PhD, assistant professor, examined data collected by the Chicago Department of Health and its program FoodBorne Chicago. In 10 months, staff members responded to 270 tweets about possible foodborne illness cases and provided links to a complaint form.

People submitted a total of 193 complaints of possible foodborne illness through FoodBorne Chicago, leading to 133 restaurants inspected. Inspection reports indicated 21 (15.8 percent) restaurants failed inspection, and 33 (24.8 percent) passed with conditions indicating critical or serious violations.

"Collaboration between public health professionals and the public via social media might improve foodborne illness surveillance and response," Harris said.

"There isn't a lot of research yet, but my guess is that Chicago is not unique when it comes to its citizens tweeting about health," she said. "I'm sure there are people tweeting about food poisoning in large cities and small towns across the country and around the world."

What do we know about foodborne illness?

Foodborne illness is a serious and underreported public health problem with high health and financial costs. Local health departments nationwide license and inspect restaurants to prevent foodborne illness and track and respond to foodborne illness complaints. Emerging evidence on the effectiveness of social media for foodborne illness surveillance suggests mining tweets and restaurant reviews might aid in identifying and taking timely action on sources of foodborne illness that otherwise would go unreported.

What are this study's important findings?

Staff used a new open-source surveillance and response tool to identify and respond to tweets about foodborne illness in Chicago. Over a 10-month period, the tool identified 133 Chicago-area restaurants, which subsequently underwent inspection. Of these, 21 (15.8 percent) failed inspection, and 33 (24.8 percent) passed with conditions.

What is the advantage for local health departments of using Twitter to find cases of foodborne illness more quickly?

Whenever food poisoning can be reported and investigated quickly, it provides health departments an opportunity to prevent additional foodborne illnesses. Surveillance via Twitter is a great way to do this because people tend to use it in real time.

What are the implications of this study for public health practice?

New technology applied to widely used social media platforms might allow health departments to engage the public to improve foodborne illness surveillance.

The report can be found online at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6332a1.htm?s_cid=mm6332a1_w


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. The original article was written by Neil Schoenherr. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University in St. Louis. "#FeelingSick: Can Twitter help better identify foodborne illness cases?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140815192244.htm>.
Washington University in St. Louis. (2014, August 15). #FeelingSick: Can Twitter help better identify foodborne illness cases?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140815192244.htm
Washington University in St. Louis. "#FeelingSick: Can Twitter help better identify foodborne illness cases?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140815192244.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins