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Google Knows Where the Flu Outbreaks Are

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Google.org

    If you look at Google Flu Trends, you see that the entire nation seems engulfed in red, seemingly saying the nation is wallowing in a nightmare of sneezing, coughing and queasiness.

    Google Flu Trends, which bases its data on flu-related search terms, can be more effective at real-time flu outbreaks than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Slate. The reason? Because the CDC's data comes from estimates made three weeks ago (or for  the week of Dec. 23) and the health community isn't sure it wants to buy into Google's algorithm for health statistics.
    But the reality is that if Google's data is to be believed, then the flu outbreak could be worse than the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. The algorithm was studied by scientific journal Nature, and it was believed to detect outbreaks weeks before they show up in CDC releases.
    So far, North America is bright red (high intensity flu outbreak) with only a few states in the West Coast, such as California, Nevada and Oregon, considered bright orange.  This could make people want to get a flu shot, but there's a chance that may not help either, according to the New York Times. It seems there are several strains of flu working out there and the best flu vaccine now only counteracts 70 percent of them. 
    Still, it may be worth it to spring for that flu shot, especially if you will be surrounded by congested and coughing coworkers.