EPA Wants to Use Twitter to Track Stomach Flu

Ilya Andriyanov/Shutterstock.com

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A Johns Hopkins study showed the social media site could spot flu outbreaks.

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to mine Twitter data to identify when and where Americans are suffering from stomach flu, solicitation documents show.

The initiative follows efforts by other agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, to mine Twitter and other social media for intelligence related to their programs. It also follows nongovernment efforts, including a Johns Hopkins University study, to use Twitter to track flu outbreaks.

The agency is seeking a vendor to collect tweets that include words and phrases that indicate acute gastroenteritis infections, commonly referred to as stomach flu, along with other information including the tweeters’ locations.

The project is not related to any EPA projects to monitor infectious agents in drinking water or to “any other broad-scale monitoring program,” an EPA spokeswoman said.

The solicitation document is a special notice, which means EPA is not obligated to buy any vendor products.

(Image via Ilya Andriyanov/Shutterstock.com)

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