Google Uses Searches to Track Flu’s Spread

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 “flu symptoms” 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, the company’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.

Google Uses Searches to Track Flu’s Spread, by Miguel Helft

4 Comments leave a comment below

  1. That is incredibly awesome.

  2. funny, it was in blick am abend yesterday, too …

  3. I love when people start using their heads. Any technology is full of so many possibilities beyond its stated goal; it just takes some clever people who have imagination to put things together.

    Good for the people at Google!

  4. This is awesome!