Google has a new service which reports U.S. influenza activity by state
using aggregated data of how often people in an area search on flu symptoms.
Here’s how it works. Note how ridiculously well its curves overlap the CDC (Center for Disease Control) curves.
Quoth Dr. Lyn Finelli, chief of influenza surveillance at the CDC:
“The data are really, really timely. They were able to tell us on a day-to-day basis the relative direction of flu activity for a given area. They were about a week ahead of us. They could be used … as early warning signal for flu activity.”
I just think it’s darn cool that appropriate combing of Google search terms can be a week ahead of the CDC in finding influenza hotspots.