Here’s a sweet little nugget from the Google geniuses to curb all your ailments as the nasty winter season approaches – Google flu trends!
Okay, so it won’t prevent all your sicknesses or lower your fever. But Google flu trends could give you a heads up when the dreaded influenza is headed your way.
From the GOOG:
"Each week, millions of users around the world search for online health information. As you might expect, there are more flu-related searches during flu season, more allergy-related searches during allergy season, and more sunburn-related searches during the summer. You can explore all of these phenomena using Google Trends. But can search query trends provide an accurate, reliable model of real-world phenomena?
We have found a close relationship between how many people search for
flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Of
course, not every person who searches for "flu" is actually sick, but a
pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries from each state
and region are added together. We compared our query counts with data
from a surveillance system managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) and found that some search queries tend to
be popular exactly when flu season is happening. By counting how often
we see these search queries, we can estimate how much flu is
circulating in various regions of the United States."
Ta da! There you have it. Pretty sweet, huh?