Big data

CDC's BioMosaic helps track MERS

A big-data analytics app is helping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention anticipate the arrival of the next case of the potent Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

The BioMosaic analytic tool integrates demography, migration and health data, and CDC officials said they have used it to analyze which U.S. airports have the most traffic from the Middle East in the springtime months. MERS has appeared in international travelers from the Arabian Peninsula, and international and U.S. health care agencies believe the coronavirus originated in that region.

The BioMosaic tool combines information about travel, disease patterns and where groups of people from other countries settle in the U.S. Using that information, CDC said it can direct health information and services where they are needed most.

CDC's May 14 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said cases of MERS have been on the upswing since mid-March. The report also noted the use of BioMosaic to monitor the disease's spread.

According to CDC, the app brings together complex data from multiple sources into a visual format, including maps. CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Harvard University and the University of Toronto launched the BioMosaic Project in 2011.

In the report, CDC said it used BioMosaic to analyze International Air Transport Association travel data for May and June from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to North America from 2010 to 2012. The CDC's analysis showed that five U.S. cities -- Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago and Washington -- accounted for 75 percent of arrivals from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with about 100,000 travelers estimated to arrive in those cities in May and June 2014.

In the past few months, MERS has spread from the Arabian Peninsula to Europe, Southeast Asia and the United States, where CDC recently confirmed two cases. Infectious disease experts have known about MERS for several years, but there has been an increase in cases in recent months, raising concerns that it could become a global health threat. In the past, CDC has said MERS kills as many as 45 percent of the people it infects. The Transportation Security Administration has begun posting signs at security lines at U.S. airports describing MERS symptoms.

As of May 16, the World Health Organization has confirmed more than 570 MERS cases worldwide, including 171 deaths from the disease. CDC confirmed the first U.S. case on May 2 in a traveler who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia. A second imported U.S. case was identified in a traveler from Saudi Arabia and was reported to CDC by the Florida Department of Health on May 11.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group