Google tracks flu outbreaks

Wednesday, November 12th 2008, 5:22 pm
By: News 9

By Audrey Esther,

Flu season is just around the corner and has just launched a new online tool that might track influenza outbreaks sooner than health experts.

Google Flu Trends uses data from search-engine queries to estimate flu activity across the United States. Google says there's a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. 

The online tool has graphs and a map that show the intensity of flu outbreaks in all 50 states.

Of course, Google organizers say it's true not every person who searches for the word flu is sick, but a pattern does emerge. That's why the company claims it can detect regional flu outbreaks 7 to 10 days ahead of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Click on this INsite Team video to find out more about Google Flu Trends and about your privacy.