iPad App Highlights Appeal of Public Health
Mar 08, 2013

What do pop culture and educational entertainment have to do with infectious diseases and vaccines? 
Well, they just may be the key to unlocking the passion of future epidemiologists.
As a parent with several science-minded children, I was thrilled to download a clever new iPad app from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Solve the Outbreak” is a fun and interactive game where the player receives clues and analyzes data in order to solve the case and save lives.  In other words, this free app let’s you become a Disease Detective.  Of course, you start out as a Trainee, but with hard work and determination you can begin solving cases that earn you badges on the way to the ultimate title of Disease Detective.  Along the way, you’ll have to decide – do you quarantine the village, talk to people who are sick or ask for more lab results?
The CDC’s real-life Disease Detectives  are the people who work 24/7 on the front lines of public health to save lives and protect people.  What many people don’t realize is that new outbreaks are occurring every day.  By engaging in this game, there is hope that players will not only learn about diseases, but they will gain an appreciation for what it takes to contain an outbreak.
cdcappscreenshot1And let’s face it.  When I read comments from people who are currently choosing not to vaccinate, I realize that they often lack critical reading and comprehension skills that could help them understand that the benefits far outweigh the risks when it comes to getting our immunizations.  Unfortunately, not everyone is familiar with the scientific method and many people misinterpret the findings of current immunization research.  And with both education and public health budget cuts on the horizon, it’s clear that it is going to take some creativity and ingenuity to attract students who are genuinely interested in pursuing a profession that pertains to science and public health.
As CDC spokesman Alex Casanova spoke about the new “Solve the Outbreak” app, he told ABC News

“We look at this as an engaging opportunity to educate young people to how public health actually works and hopefully to draw some future epidemiologists,”

CDC Director, Tom Frieden adds,

“The goal is to use new technology to  provide an  engaging, interactive way for users to learn how CDC solves outbreaks, thereby  increasing general knowledge about real-life public health issues.  This application allows us to illustrate the  challenges of solving outbreaks and how our disease detectives work on the  front lines to save lives and protect people 24/7.”

So why not see if you have what it takes to be a Disease DetectiveDownload the app for free here and share it with others in your life.  You can even post your scores on Facebook or Twitter and challenge your friends to do better!  Hopefully your happy gaming days will lead to a greater appreciation for better public health.
For a list of additional resources that can be used to teach children and teens about infectious diseases, check out the CDC website

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