In other words, it’s an early-warning system for outbreaks of viruses.

The Sneez app can be downloaded for free from the app store on iPhone or Android smartphones, the Journal reported. Users set up accounts by entering their names, ZIP code and the basic information for each family member they want to include, such as a child’s name, school, grade and extracurricular activities. Users then enter alerts if their children get ill or if they hear of ill children, and Sneez alerts other users. All the reports are aggregated and based on location, not identity, which is good for those who would hate to be known as the family spreading all the germs.

“You can touch on the outbreaks map and you can see all the different schools and what the level of reported illness is in those schools where people are participating,” Satterwhite told the Journal.

The name “Sneez” has a humorous ring to it, but this device could be of great practical benefit.

“The prevention of outbreaks is important for early diagnosis,” Hodges told the Journal. “Once a whole class is full of flu or whatever, it’s too late.”

When Cabell Edmundson’s daughter got sick about a month ago — they live in Winston-Salem — Edmondson thought she had strep throat. But Sneez alerted her to several cases of flu that had been reported at her daughter’s school, so she took her to a doctor and was able to get her on an antiviral medicine.

“I think it’s a great tool,” she told the Journal.

Katie Woltz, who lives in Winston-Salem and has three children, agrees. “It has been helpful to know what particular illnesses are going around at my children’s schools,” she told the Journal.

Knowing of an early outbreak can help parents prepare their children to take extra precautions, like washing their hands more often. Just knowing what’s going around can make parents feel more empowered and in control, Hodges told the Journal.

The app is now being marketed, and 3,171 children from multiple cities across the country have been entered by users since December, the Journal reported.

“Our goal is early prevention, preventing outbreaks and saving money from missed days at school and missed days at work,” Hodges told the Journal. Worthy goals, and we wish the doctors much success.”