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

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

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