A new Google application may be able to detect regional outbreaks of the flu virus up to 10 days before they are reported by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
In February, the CDC reported flue cases spiked in certain states, but Google says its data recorded a spike in searches for flu symptom queries two weeks before a report was released.
“The earlier the warning, the earlier prevention and control measures can be put in place, and this could prevent cases of influenza,” Lyn Finelli, lead for surveillance at the influenza division of the CDC told the New York Times.
And experts say it has big potential.
“In theory, we could use this stream of information to learn about other disease trends as well,” Philip Polgreen, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa says.