Google Spreads Flu Trends Around the World

    October 8, 2009
    Chris Crum

The flu is a hot topic right now, unfortunately. A lot of people have it, have had it recently, or will get it soon. Flu shots are all over the news – Who gets them first? How many are available? Should you even get one? These are all questions circulating through the news media.

Last year Google launched its Flu Trends tool in the United States, and has now taken the opportunity to expand it into 16 additional countries. The site is also now available in 37 different languages.

"By tracking the popularity of certain Google search queries, we are able to estimate the level of flu, in near real-time," says Google. "While some traditional flu surveillance systems may take days or weeks to collect and release data, Google search queries can be counted immediately. Google Flu Trends provides an additional surveillance tool that may help public health officials and the public make more informed decisions about preparing for the flu season."

"In the past year, we’ve expanded our coverage to include Mexico, New Zealand and Australia and have continued to see a good correspondence between our estimates and official flu activity data. In fact, our analysis of last season shows that Google Flu Trends had a close 0.92 correlation with official U.S. flu data," the company adds.

Countries where Flu Trends is now available include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the US.