This week, the Weather Network’s Flu Report shows significant numbers of influenza cases in the Lower Mainland. Google Flu Trends provides less detail — it rates all of B.C. as having high flu activity.
Google Flu Trends tallies Google searches for information about influenza-like illness to estimate real-time flu activity around the world. When compared to results from traditional flu-surveillance systems, Google’s estimates match on-the-ground illness patterns. But unlike traditional reports, Google updates Flu Trends daily.
The launch of Flu Trends in 2008 launched an even greater trend in health research. Google may have led the way, but new methods for tracking health indicators and mining the Internet for health-related social information seem to come online each year.
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