"Google Flu Trends" could help with preparation

Emergency Management Alert, December 2, 2008

You probably use the Google search engine at least every day. But did you ever think that Google might help you with pandemic flu preparation?
Many people use Google to search their symptoms on the Internet. In fact, so many people did that last year, that Google has developed “Google Flu Trends,” a tool aimed at helping the CDC figure out where and when flu activity is on the rise.
Google is monitoring specific, undisclosed search terms to compile data, which will translate into a real-time flu tracker. Currently, the CDC relies on reports and lab tests to generate numbers, however, those numbers are typically two weeks behind since many people don’t go to the doctor or they research their symptoms online first.
Since this tool also gauges flu activity by state, it could serve emergency management officials as an early warning sign to help hospitals and doctor’s offices stock up on supplies and allow people to get vaccinated before the flu reaches their community.
To access “Google Flu Trends,” click here.


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