While this is great that Google Earth is expanding further into the GIS arena, this is by no means an innovation. People have been using Google Earth in this manner for quite a while now. Geospatial Information Systems have always allowed the collection and analysis of remotely sensed data from way back in the days of WW1 when they took reconnaissance photos from hot air balloons. Maps have also been used to track the spread of disease in order to infer the disease's root since as early as the 1700s.
Basically, all im saying is that the phrase "British researchers have found a new way to track the spread of diseases in locations that lack traditional mapping support" is grossly inaccurate.