Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Using Google to Track the Flu Epidemic

Could an Internet search engine be used to improve early detection of the flu epidemic? The folks at Google say the answer appears to be "yes." That's because there are more flu-related searches during flu season, more allergy-related searches during allergy season, and more sunburn-related searches during the summer. Below is an overlay of how past flu activity has tracked with Google's estimates based on flu-information seeking on the web:

United States Flu Activity
United States DataGoogle Flu Trends estimate

United States: Influenza-like illness (ILI) data provided
publicly by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.


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