The 5 Best Apps to Track Deadly Viruses in 2020

From the CDC to the WHO, these are the health sources you can trust

The appearance and rapid spread of COVID-19 (the Novel Coronavirus) has left many people wondering if there’s a way to track deadly viruses, like Coronavirus or the flu, using an app on their smartphone. There are several apps you may find useful for tracking public health information, like the spread of deadly viruses, but use caution when downloading them.

As with any emergency situation, there are lots of swindlers out there that produce bogus apps just for the purpose of gaining access to your private data and your money. Use caution when downloading Android apps from locations other than the Google Play Store. We researched the available public health tracking apps to put together a list of trustworthy apps you can use to track Coronavirus and other health threats.

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Best for Accurate, Timely Information: CDC

Screenshots of the CDC app on Android.
What We Like
  • Accurate, timely, useful information.

  • Extensive list of illnesses included in Case Counts.

  • Disease of the Week Features educates readers on a variety of topics.

What We Don't Like
  • No apparent tracking maps.

  • Basic navigation tools aren't intuitive.

From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the CDC app is one of the best you’ll find for tracking whatever deadly virus might be making the rounds. From COVID-19 to Dengue Fever and Mumps to Zika Virus, you can find the latest, and most accurate news, Disease Case Counts, and other information about community health concerns.

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Best for Those Who Must Travel: CDC TravWell

Screenshots of the CDC TravWell app on Android.
What We Like
  • Very clear travel notices.

  • Ability to add and track upcoming trips.

  • Useful tools to help plan travel abroad.

What We Don't Like
  • App sometimes doesn't render well.

  • App not intuitive enough for some users.

If you work in a position where you must travel, or if you’re planning a vacation and want to know what vaccinations you need to be aware of, or you want to stay abreast of healthcare situations for the area you’re going to, the CDC TravWell app is what you need. This app provides information on health notices around the world, and when you enter a trip into the trip tracker, you’ll get a list of to-do items, health kit items you should pack, and you can select to automatically receive health notices for the area.

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Best for Outbreak and Pandemic Education: OpenWHO

Screenshots of the OpenWHO app from the World Health Organization.
What We Like
  • Interesting information that would help the average person understand how healthcare professionals approach outbreaks and pandemics.

  • Videos and course matierals are downloadable.

  • Discussion boards and progress trackers available.

What We Don't Like
  • App can be a little buggy.

  • No tracking information to follow outbreaks.

Designed more for healthcare professionals than for the average consumer, the OpenWHO app is a good way to find shared knowledge on outbreaks and how those outbreaks or pandemics are handled. It is not, however, a great app for tracking an outbreak. Still, knowledge is power and the knowledge in the courses offered through this app are easy to enroll in and take. All directly in the app.

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Best During Flu Season: FluStar

Screenshots of the FluStar app on Android.
What We Like
  • Tracking maps are easy to understand.

  • Symptom checker helps decide if you should see a doctor.

  • Flu Activity tab helps you understand the risks in your specific area.

What We Don't Like
  • Only tracks the flu and flu-like symptoms.

  • Ad-supported, and there's no way to remove it.

A cold or the flu may seem like a minor concern, but both can lead to much more concerning healthcare problems if unchecked, especially if you have a compromised immune system.

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Best for Crowdsourcing Illness Information: Sickweather

Screenshots of the SickWeather app on Android.
What We Like
  • Can report your own illnesses to help others in the community.

  • Alerts can be set for a variety of illnesses.

  • Family health can be tracked through the app.

What We Don't Like
  • Trending includes only top three reported illnesses.

  • Limited to the data community users provide.

One way to find the most updated information, and to contribute to the tracking process is through crowdsourcing illness information. Sickweather is an app that lets you contribute, and see what others have posted in your area about simple illnesses such as fever, cough, and the common cold. The one real downfall with this type of app, however, is that it's only useful if a large percentage of the people in your area use the app.

Bonus: Outbreak Trackers on the Web

Seeing all the data that’s available about illnesses, outbreaks, and pandemics can sometimes be frustrating on a small screen. If you’re looking for something a little bigger, and maybe with more detail, here are a few sites where you can find information on COVID-19, the flu, and other public health concerns: