, the Baltimore based online social health network, has launched an iPhone app that informs users of viruses around their area via real-time notifications.

Sickweather works by scanning through comments on Facebook and Twitter to track the viruses spreading in close proximity.

Their system picks up key words such as unwell and sick and is smart enough to filter out comments such as Bieber fever. Sickweather also takes regional linguistics into consideration when collecting data.

Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Western Ontario in London Abe Oudshoorn told the Toronto Star that due to minimal mandatory requirements for the public reporting of health data there will be opportunities for private sharing of health information. “It’s not going to go backwards – we’re not going to see the decline of data. We’re going to see continuous new platforms for sharing data” says Oudshoorn.

Sickweather currently only scans comments in English but soon hopes to add Spanish and French. The app is free to download for iOS. Its developers plan to make it available for Android phones during early 2014.

Source: Toronto Star, Sickweather