ProMED has been a guilty pleasure of mine since the SARS outbreak almost two years ago. Back then ProMED was the first news service to deliver word that a strange outbreak was killing people — in February of 2003, almost two months before the news came out elsewhere:
Date: 10 Feb 2003
From: Stephen O. Cunnion, MD, PhD, MPH
This morning I received this e-mail and then searched your archives
and found nothing that pertained to it. Does anyone know anything
about this problem?
“Have you heard of an epidemic in Guangzhou? An acquaintance of mine
from a teacher’s chat room lives there and reports that the
hospitals there have been closed and people are dying.”
How does ProMED do it? Call it peer-to-peer news: The service relies on doctors, epidemiologists, and other front-line medical people — not professional journalists — to report what they see in front of them in the field, all over the world, from avian influenza to trypanosomiasis. Whether you’re an amateur epidemiologist, a fan of peer-to-peer technologies, or just keeping an eye out for local bio-terror outbreaks, it’s worth a look.