A new web site called “Who Is Sick” (conveniently located at www.whoissick.org) allows people to report their symptoms (cough, fever, nausea, etc.) to be logged in real time. The service tracks sickness trends down to the zip code level (aggregate reporting only!). The goal is to empower individuals to identify sickness trends long before the CDC (or CNN) has uncovered serious patterns. This could shave precious hours off the timeline in finding and stopping serious outbreaks.
On a more day-to-day basis people could find out if there was more than the normal number of people in their area with symptoms similar to their own. Now if “Who Is Sick” could only add a button for “lice infestation” so schools everywhere could anticipate outbreaks and declare “lice days” – kind of like “snow days” only not as cold!