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CDC Turns to Apps to Create Disease Detectives – Social Media and Health

The Centers for Disease Control have launched a new app – Solve the Outbreak – to help teach people about disease outbreaks. The interactive game allows users to track, solve and prevent future outbreaks.

Alex Cassanova is the Innovations Team Lead at the CDC. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER that the users play the role of CDC’s disease detectives.

“The app has three functional outbreaks all based on real-life outbreaks that the CDC has helped solve,” said Cassanova.

How It Functions

  • You are given clues in the form of data charts.
  • Users are told how many people are sick and have died.
  • They are asked questions about what they should do next, like an interview, more lab results or shut down a town.
  • Once they get it all solved they need to figure out what steps to take to prevent another outbreak.

Why Create the App?

“Mobile devices are a growing area to engage people on health topics. App creation is a new task for the CDC. We recognize apps for their portability and what they can contribute to real-world disease surveillance and response. We are using this purely education application to build out the framework for future health apps,” said Cassanova.


“Part of the mission of the CDC is to educate and inform the public about health issues and protect and provide them with the tools to help keep them safe,” said Cassanova.

Biggest Challenge

“Our challenge is to take all the information and scale it down to fit into the framework designed for the app. We used subject matter experts to aide the development,” said Cassanova.

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