Partnering with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the dot org arm of Google has just introduced "Google Flu Trends", an incredibly accurate predictor of influenza levels. By noting the number of search queries about the flu, Google can predict how many people have flu symptoms, and by breaking the searches down by region, they can give you an idea how the flu spreads, the areas where it is most prevalent, and just how much of a risk you are at. Sounds simple, huh? It seems so, and not only that, but it appears that the predictive results are spot on with the CDC data.
The twist that makes this knowledge not only interesting, but potentially very valuable, is that the Google results are in real time, whereas previous results of traditional flu surveillance systems take about two weeks to accrue. Previous to Google Flu Trends, the best measure of influenza activity could tell us: "Two weeks ago, influenza levels were here..." Now, with this new predictive measure, anyone can find out the moment to moment status for the flu.
For the history, state by state flu levels, and further explanations, check it out here at Google Flu Trends. Or, you know, you could just google it.
Here are some of the additional recommendation we have to help everyone out there guard against the danger that influenza perennially threats us each flu season:
- 100 mg of Vitamin C per day
- Take 3 to 5 ml of liquid Echinacea, or 300 mg of powdered root supplements three times a day to help clear symptoms faster
- 60 ml (4 tablespoons) of Black Elderberry to speed recovery