Biometric systems are used to track people. A researcher from Microsoft is showing they can also help keep tabs on the spread of tuberculosis, and even stop it.
Partnered with the non-profit project Operation Asha, Bill Thies, who works at Microsoft Research India, developed a way to use a simple fingerprint reader and a netbook to track tuberculosis patients in India.
This may sound big brother-ish, but it's important to make sure TB patients return to local clinics to get their medications. TB is relatively easy to treat and cure, with a standard course of antibiotics. But many patients don't keep taking the drugs because they feel better. "The challenge is to make sure they finish the course of treatment," Thies told Discovery News.
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In order to cure a bacterial infection, patients must take enough antimicrobial drugs to kill every last one of the germs. Otherwise, TB sufferers could end up with a drug-resistant strain of the disease.
That outcome is a lot more dangerous to the patient, and worse, it increases the odds that person will infect others.