Social media posts helping company track active illnesses in states, Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A Baltimore business has analyzed social media posts on Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to track the spreading of disease across the country.

Sickweather, a business based in Baltimore, scans posts for keywords like 'sickness,' 'sore throat' and 'allergies' to configure a map of illnesses.

"Sickweather is the Doppler Radar for sickness," said Graham Dodge, CEO of Sickweather.

Officials say if your social media account is set to private, your information is not included in the study.

However, public pages with posts talking about sickness are tracked.

Researchers at Sickweather say they use that information to warn others that an illness is on the rise in a specific area.

"That allows us to track illness in real-time and show people where different sick zones are, what the top trending forecasts in their area is for different illnesses," said Dodge.

In Oklahoma, many social media users are talking about allergies, strep throat and the common cold.

Sickweather officials say the program is also able to differentiate posts with words that have dual meanings.

"We're able to weed out posts like, 'Those are sick beats at the club' or 'I have Bieber fever' with a patent-pending process," said Dodge.

Over at the Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Clinic, doctors say allergies are in full swing.

However, they say they base their information on patient visits, not social media statistics.

"For many people, they get a sore throat or they feel they have allergies or they feel they have something, whether it's a cold, but many of those are probably not diagnosed via physician," said Dr. Dean Atkinson.

For Sickweather, the goal is to help people be pro-active when it comes to sickness.

Sickweather has a mobile app for the iPhone where people can track illnesses in their area in real-time.

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