Public health alum creates disease-tracking app for national parks

West Nile virus, Lyme disease and rabies are some of the diseases that a visitor to a national park in the United States could encounter – but there’s an app for that.

Emma St. Aubin, a recent graduate of the master’s in public health program in the Colorado School of Public Health at CSU, has created a mobile application to provide National Park Service visitors with information needed to identify and prevent zoonotic, communicable and vector-borne diseases within the parks.

npsdiseaseThe mobile app, supported by an agreement between NPS and ColoradoSPH, serves as an electronic handbook for park visitors. If a visitor is not aware of a disease they may encounter, they can look up the symptoms, the causes of the symptoms and possible treatments of the disease. It also lists disease-spreading animals within the parks, so that visitors can readily identify the cause of their disease and accurately figure out a treatment.

St. Aubin started an internship with the NPS in November 2015, and soon had the idea to create a mobile app to educate park visitors on disease prevention measures.

“I taught myself how to write code such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript to create the app,” St. Aubin said. She finished the coding in March.

The app features maps of where diseases occur within the United States and “Did you know?” facts about diseases as well as emergency contact information for each individual park and monument.

npsdidyouknowThere is a focus on the One Health model in the app. That model focuses on the idea that the environment, humans and animals are all connected and equally important to the ecosystem. The model strives for optimal health for all three.

“This mobile app is unique because  is specific to the park that the visitor is in,” St. Aubin said. “The parks have so many apps, but this is the only app related to visitors’ health and safety for all of the NPS parks.”

The app is helpful for individuals who are backpacking or camping because it can also be used without a cellular network or a connection to Wi-Fi.

“There has been great feedback from the individuals who have downloaded the app,” said St. Aubin.

The NPS application is currently only available at the Google Play store for Android devices.

To download the app visit the Google Play store.

For more information about the national parks, visit the NPS website.