- March 8th 2013
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention waited for physicians and others to send data on influenza cases, it monitored Google Flu Trends, developed to determine the level of illness based on how often people used the company's search engine to search for flu-related topics.
Lynette Brammer, MPH, an epidemiologist with the CDC's influenza division, said Google's flu data, which are supposed to be a real-time measure of flu, followed nearly the same trend as the CDC's figures, normally released one or two weeks after it gets reports on flu cases. Both numbers “went up and went down at the same times,” she said.
The promise of Google Flu and other Internet resources, particularly social media sites such as Twitter or other online chatter, has some health experts saying that physicians can use the Web as an early-warning or just-in-time tracking system for outbreaks of not only the flu but also other diseases.
By monitoring such sites, physicians could get a sense of [Read more]