Who knows where the flu is raging before the Centers for Disease Control? Google knows.
SAN FRANCISCO â€” There is a new common symptom of the flu, in addition to the usual aches, coughs, fevers and sore throats. Turns out a lot of ailing Americans enter phrases like â€œflu symptomsâ€? into Google and other search engines before they call their doctors.
That simple act, multiplied across millions of keyboards in homes around the country, has given rise to a new early warning system for fast-spreading flu outbreaks, called Google Flu Trends.
Tests of the new Web tool from Google.org, the companyâ€™s philanthropic unit, suggest that it may be able to detect regional outbreaks of the flu a week to 10 days before they are reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While you are looking at your computer, your computer is looking at you. Where is this all leading?