Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Swine flu latest

The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology said in a report last week that the virus, although moderate, could infect 30 percent to 50 percent of the U.S. population this year, put 1.8 million people into the hospital and kill anywhere between 30,000 and 90,000 people.
From a Reuters article today.

Also, interesting to see how new technologies are being used this time to track and anticipate the pandemic. The figure below shows how the discussion of 'swine flu' on Facebook is distributed geographically.

Google has been tracking flu trends for some time by analyzing people's choice of search terms. This method has been very successful and they can usually pick up trends a few weeks before the CDC data. Earlier this year a variety of workers from Google and one from the CDC published a paper in Nature describing their technique:
Detecting influenza epidemics using search engine query data.

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