Bird Flu Web-Tracking Is On The Money
A bird flu in the hand is worth two in the bush and if money grew on trees, then you may expect to find two birds there too, allowing scientist to track money and birds and thereby killing two birds with one stone. Let me explain. No, don’t. Let me start over.
Scientists tracking worrisome potential bird flu outbreaks have incorporated a new tool in their research: wheresgeorge.com, the website devoted to tracking dollar bills as they circulate throughout the country.
As reported in the journal Nature, the scientists believe that tracking the circulation of money may closely match how a disease may spread, possibly making the website a powerful prediction tool.
Currently it is difficult for humans to contract the avian flu, but the virus is expected to mutate into an easily spread form that has spark fears of a pandemic. The ease of worldwide travel in modern times has intensified these fears.
Ideally, scientists would like to track humans with tracking devices as they would animals to decipher their travel patterns. Unable to this, researchers have discovered that tracking money simulates patterns close to how a virus is spread through human contact.
At the wheresgeorge.com website, users register money, spend it, and return to the website to see where it goes. Researchers have found that about 57% of money spent circulated between 30 miles and 500 miles away from the point of sale within nine months. Around 25% traveled beyond that distance.
Researchers plan to build a model of disease patterns based on the data they collect from the site.
An avian flu Google Earth mashup has already been put together by Nature to trace the historical pattern of the disease.