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.