The authors were interested in whether smartphone-based sensors could enable the real-time surveillance of infectious diseases at population and household levels. They specifically examined the use of commercially available smart thermometers, connected to a mobile phone application, for the surveillance of influenza-like illness (ILI). The authors found that thermometer readings were highly correlated with national ILI activity and activity patterns across regions and age groups. Thermometer readings were found to significantly improve forecasts of ILI activity in real-time and up to 3 weeks in advance. In-household results found that fevers lasting between 3-6 days and biphasic fever episodes occurred more frequently during the influenza season. In addition, potential cases of in-household transmission of febrile illness originate more frequently from children than adults. Therefore smart thermometers may be a novel source of information for influenza surveillance and forecasting.
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