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Want to know how many Australians have the flu? Now you can with the new service from Google called Flu Trends.


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According to Google, flu-related search queries are common during flu season, resulting to the company creating a service that can estimate how many people have the said illness.

To create the Google Flu Trends for Australia, Google has worked with historical seasonal flu data from the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL), as well as their own aggregated historical search data.

Google has then extrapolated this model to produce flu models at a national and state level for the rest of Australia.

 

The Head of the Epidemiology Unit at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, Heath Kelly said, “Influenza experts recommend gathering information from multiple sources to best understand and monitor influenza activity, and Google Flu Trends provides a valuable and timely additional source of data that can help identify trends in influenza activity.”

“Having additional sources of data will be even more important than usual in the current influenza season, with the circulation of novel influenza A (H1N1), commonly known as swine flu, already established in Victoria.  The initial data from Google look promising, and researchers from VIDRL and the University of Queensland look forward to working with Google to further refine the monitoring of influenza in Australia,” added Kelly.

The company is hoping that the information complements existing flu surveillance efforts and proves useful for individuals and public health organisations.

See the chart here.

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