London: Researchers have developed a free, real-time epidemic visualisation and tracking platform that can be used to monitor outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and antibiotic-resistant microbes.

The cloud-based system called ‘Microreact’ combines open data and web to provide real-time global data sharing and visualisation, said the team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Imperial College London.

“Microreact allows everyone to explore the information dynamically — across both time and space — letting them see the whole picture. Microreact takes disease tracking out the hands of a privileged few and gives it to everyone who wants to understand disease evolution,” said David Aanensen, one of Microreact’s creators.

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The researchers gathered data from almost 2,000 samples of Salmonella Typhi bacteria in 63 countries and concluded that a new drug-resistant strain emerged in Asia and had spread across that continent and into Africa.

“Microreact allows data and metadata sets to be uploaded through a web browser, which can then be visualised, shared and published in a research paper through a permanent web link,” the researchers said.