Social media is pretty much built for complaining, and there's nothing people like to complain about as much as being sick. If you come down with a flu, a bout of food poisoning, or a clammy sensation accompanied by a need for brains, chances are your Facebook friends and Twitter followers are going to hear about it. A team of epidemiologists led by researchers from Kansas State University
are counting on it, in fact. The team is looking for ways to turn social media sites into high-tech monitoring and announcement systems for disease outbreaks than can stifle the spread of diseases by getting out in front of them early
and getting the word out effectively about prevention.
Researchers following the spread of salmonella in Africa, which has reached epidemic levels, have found that the spread of the disease may be linked to the emergence of HIV on the continent
, implying that the blood-borne disease may have followed in the wake of HIV, finding good hosts in people with compromised immune systems and becoming more prevalent as it did so. The same study has also identified some of the genes for antibiotic resistance
that are partly to blame for the disease's increased virulence and mortality in Africa.