Google Tracks Flu Outbreaks with its Tools

November 13, 2008

California (Chattahbox) Google’s influence on society seems to be growing everyday. It has launched a new public health initiative – Google Flu Trends, which keeps track of the flu related search terms in the US. If the user searches for flu symptoms, Google keeps a record of the same and it also records the US state from where the search query originated. If there is relative popularity of flu related search terms, it is able to detect where in the US flu outbreaks may be occurring.

“What’s exciting about Flu Trends is that it lets anybody — epidemiologists, health officials, moms with sick children — learn about the current flu activity level in their own state based on data that’s coming in this week,” said Jeremy Ginsberg, the lead engineer who developed the site.

Google Flu Trends, is part of the company’s philanthropic unit that is geared towards serving the community before the start of flu season in the US. The service tracks for user-searches for keywords like muscle aches, flu symptoms and other related terms. It keeps track of such queries and charts their ebb and flow split into regions and states.

The remarkable and noteworthy feature about the tool is that Google can detect before anyone else that fast spreading flu outbreak may be in line. It can help alert doctors, public health officials and agencies in that region before people start falling prey to it.

Preliminary reports of this web tools suggest that it will enable the health officials to predict the regional outbreaks of flu nearly a week or 10 days before they are reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials are also optimistic that it will help the doctors, public health officials and hospitals to reduce the spread of the disease and save lives.


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