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IBM to Predict Dengue Fever and Malaria Outbreaks

Scientists from IBM (NYSE: IBM) are collaborating with Johns Hopkins University and University of California, San Francisco to combat illness and infectious diseases in real-time with smarter data tools for public health.

The focus is to help contain global outbreaks of dengue fever and malaria by applying the latest analytic models, computing technology and mathematical skills on an open-source framework.

Vector-borne diseases, like malaria and dengue fever, are infections transmitted to humans and other animals by blood-feeding insects, such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas.

Once thought to be limited geographically to the tropics or developing countries, they continue to show up all over the world and are among the most complex and dangerous infectious diseases to prevent and control, warns IBM.

The rise of global transportation, trade and climate change allows insects to easily carry disease organisms across borders, infecting animals as well as humans.

Dengue fever, for example, has spread to over 100 countries, including the United States, and malaria is responsible for over one million annual deaths. Finding and implementing new, innovative methods of predicting outbreaks is key to saving lives.

Using existing vector borne disease models from Johns Hopkins and UCSF, IBM researchers are developing new dengue fever and malaria models that are shared as part of the open-source modeling application, Spatio Temporal Epidemiological Modeler (STEM).

The scientists identified the opportunity to combine population analytics, algorithms of disease paths and powerful computing to build realistic and accessible models of these infectious diseases.

This capability allows for the study of disease dynamics in humans and intervention strategies such as vector control and vaccine distribution. IBM made this announcement today, Sept. 30.

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