4 Internet Tools for Tracking the Flu

Last year, 700 people in Boston, MA, alone were diagnosed with the flu, and in Pennsylvania, a hospital had to set up an entire care unit (in the parking lot!) just for flu patients. With flu season right around the corner (it peaks between January and February, but hits earlier), it’s time to arm yourself with these four flu tracking internet tools. Think the flu won’t affect you or your family? Consider this: from the end of September of 2012 to the end of that same year, there were 22,048 flu cases, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Just one year before, there were only 849 reported cases within the same time frame. Who knows what’s in store for this year…

CDC Influenza App

The CDC Influenza App lets health professionals access recommendations and flu activity updates. Flu activity on a national level is regularly updated, as are recommendations for flu vaccinations and laboratory testing information. Additional features include videos of experts discussing flu-related topics and the ability to order print products to post in your workplace or hand out to patients. This app was designed for the iPhone, iPod and iPad; Android support is on its way. While the app is intended for clinicians and people in the healthcare industry, anybody can download it for free from Apple’s App Store.

Flu Near You

The Flu Near You website (FluNearYou.org) lets visitors report their flu symptoms and location (assuming you feel well enough to open up your laptop). Information is shown on Google Maps so that the public can view flu strains by location as well as look up national information. Additional features of the site include a Flu Vaccine Finder and customized e-mail alerts about the flu. The website is run by Healthmap of Boston Children’s Hospital along with both the Skoll Global Threats Fund and the American Public Health Association. If you want to truly help the cause, you can sign up to fill out weekly surveys – your answers offer crucial insight about the flu and also help organizations and medical professionals to learn more about influenza.

Google Flu Trends

Google Flu Trends uses search data from Google to estimate the amount of flu activity on the web – and in life. The website has found a strong connection between people who are searching for flu information and people who actually have flu symptoms – they compared search queries for flu-related topics with basic flu surveillance information. With Google Flu Trends, you can see how the flu is currently circulating throughout various regions and countries, and you can compare statistics with past years. Information is provided in both graph and text formats.

Help, My Friend Gave Me the Flu

This social media tool may have a tongue-in-cheek name, but it can actually be quite helpful when you’re trying to figure out which of your pals got you sick. “Help, My Friend Gave Me the Flu” is a Facebook app that helps users find which of their online friends gave them the flu in real life. Click the “Who Made Me Sick” button and the app will search through your Facebook friends’ status updates for words that substantiate their unhealthiness, like “sneezing” or “coughing” – or, most telling of all, “flu.” What happens when you find the culprit? Well, you can tell all of their friends to keep their distance, you can send over a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup to help them feel better, or you can just soothe yourself by having somebody to blame for your sniffles.

EFI provides a multi-disciplinary line of forensic engineering that is able to respond to any type of failure. Charlie Lincoln is a freelance writer with an interest in failure analysis engineer services.