Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To My Hypocondriac Friends

I have found a solution for you: Google Flu Trends. Google has come out with this fancy new tool that claims to track the number of cases of influenza. It does so by tabulating the number of searches for keywords such as "fever" or "cough" made in a certain geographic region. Admittedly, this seems totally erroneous except for the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. government's public-health watchdog, supervised the build and execution of Flu Trends. The team at Google behind this latest platform examined these flu-related keywords over five years, noting times when searches of those terms surged. Then the group compared that data to CDC records over the same time frame and found a strong correlation between when people searched flu keywords and when people have had flu-like symptoms. The accuracy of such a tracking tool seems suspicious, but it may insight you to at least get a flu shot if you area is labeled an "intense" flu zone. The upside to this new tracker: You now have a new excuse for calling in sick explaining Google told you to.

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