Thursday, October 8, 2009

Accurate information on the spread of Inluenza

One of the hardest things to judge from the news is the actual threat of the H1N1 Flu virus, also known as Swine Flu. What is apparent is that the Swine Flu is no more virulent or fatal than many other flu strains. Nevertheless, inflammatory news articles sell so they are starting to appear more and more regularly. Google has announced the expansion of Google Flu Trends. To quote their recent blog post,
Last November, we launched Google Flu Trends in the United States after finding a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. By tracking the popularity of certain Google search queries, we are able to estimate the level of flu, in near real-time. While some traditional flu surveillance systems may take days or weeks to collect and release data, Google search queries can be counted immediately. Google Flu Trends provides an additional surveillance tool that may help public health officials and the public make more informed decisions about preparing for the flu season.
Here is the Google video on the subject.

How well does this work? They claim that their analysis of the data has a .92 correlation with official U.S. flu data. OK so where do you go to get official data? Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a weekly update.

Don't panic, get accurate information. You may wish to pass this post along to friends and family to help stop the flood of misinformation that will undoubtedly start coming in the media.

1 comment:

ikathy33 said...

So are you recommending this google flutrends site?