Google to help CDC map flu outbreaks

Nov. 12, 2008 at 11:13 AM
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ATLANTA, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Google is offering a service to help Web surfers make it through flu season and also assist U.S. health officials in monitoring the spread of the disease.

The Flu Trends Web site will comb through search words, such as "cough" and "fever," entered by Google users who likely have the flu and use the data to compile a map showing the severity of flu in various regions.

Lyn Finelli, who heads the influenza surveillance team at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, told The Wall Street Journal the real-time service "maps very closely to the influenza-like trends that we see in the United States."

The Journal said Tuesday that Flu Trends was developed by the Google.org branch of the search company, which compared the volume of flu-related search terms to CDC records on flu cases. The team found that more Google users entered the flu search words when the CDC was seeing more flu cases.

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