Monday, October 31, 2011

Take APHA's Flu Near You Challenge!

Are you ready to win and help better track the flu? Well, today's your lucky day.

At the Contagion Project event, which was held last night at the convention center, APHA officially launched its Flu Near You Challenge. Here's how it works: APHA's Get Ready campaign has partnered up with HealthMap and the Skoll Global Threats Fund to help track flu cases via a new online tracking tool known as Flu Near You. People use the online flu surveillance tool to report their flu symptoms and help create a dynamic map of the flu and its spread. Pretty neat, huh? In fact, these kinds of online surveillance tools — such as Google Flu Trends — are quickly emerging as a revolutionary way for public health practitioners to keep track of disease trends in as close to real time as possible.

So, what about the winning part, you say? Well, APHA and its partners want millions of people to take part in Flu Near You and that's where you come in. We want you to recruit as many people as possible who are willing to report their symptoms on a weekly basis via Flu Near You surveys. The top individual recruiter can win $25,000 at next year's APHA Annual Meeting and the top group recruiter can win $50,000 — no kidding!! Eligible participants must be 18 years of age and active APHA members through the end of the challenge. For all the challenge details, visit APHA's Flu Near You Challenge site or stop by the Get Ready booth at the Public Health Expo.

APHA announced the challenge during a lively session featuring a discussion with Larry Brilliant, a scientific consultant on the recent movie "Contagion," president of the Skoll Global Threats Fund and former executive director of Brilliant showed clips from "Contagion," discussed his experience in helping to bring accurate public health storylines to the movie as well as his thoughts on the possibility of a global disease outbreak similar to the one that unfolded in "Contagion."

"This movie was not made for you," Brilliant told APHA Annual Meeting attendees. "It was made to celebrate you."

Register for the challenge before the Closing Session, which is 2 p.m. on Wednesday, and be entered to win an iPad.

For more on the Flu Near You Challenge, click here. For a behind-the-scenes look at "Contagion," check out this article from The Nation's Health.

— K.K.

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