Cloudy, Chance of Cough

With a new mapping tool, Ontario is the only place where people can track disease epidemics in real time—telling them when to skip daycare, perhaps, or take other steps to stay disease free.

If a weather map can prevent you from getting rained on in a storm, can a map of infectious diseases in your neighborhood prevent you from getting sick in an epidemic? Scientists in Kingston, Ontario, think so. Thanks to a software system called Infection Watch Live, the southeastern corner of Ontario is the only place in the world where illnesses like flu and stomach bugs are made publicly available on real-time maps online.

Maps are nothing new when it comes to disease. Italian princes used them to quarantine plague sites as early as the 1600s. Today, school boards, employers, public health officials, and concerned individuals are checking the online maps daily to see...

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