Has every state now gone blue?
No, there are still a few red states left. But what the above map does show, is the levels of flu activity in each state (as of today, November 11, 2008); lighter blue for minimal flu activity, and darker blue for raised levels of flu activity.
Google (that’s right, the search engine) has just launched a new service called Google Flu Trends. Google has observed that certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity. Google Flu Trends uses Google search data to estimate flu activity up to two weeks faster than traditional flu surveillance systems managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Of course, not every person who searches for “flu” or “flu symptoms” is actually sick. But trends do develop amongst the millions of searches done each day. It makes sense when you think about it; people might do a search themselves before they actually end up at their doctor’s office where their case of the Flu gets reported.
By making flu estimates available each day, Google Flu Trends may provide an early-warning system for outbreaks of influenza, and may enable public health officials to better respond to seasonal epidemics and pandemics.