Swine Flu Fears Overrun Web

    April 28, 2009

Don’t be surprised if, at the next Web 2.0-type conference, the attendees all wear surgical masks and tote gallon jugs of hand sanitizer.  New stats from both Nielsen and Hitwise indicate that fear of the swine flu has hit the online world in a big way.

A Nielsen press release stated in relation to blog posts, "The volume of conversations about the epidemic is already nearly ten times those surrounding the salmonella and peanut butter scares from earlier this winter . . . or, to put it in another cultural perspective, the chatter about swine flu even dwarfs that of recent viral media star Susan Boyle."

Swine Flu Internet

Mentions of the swine flu are becoming quite common on Twitter, too, according to Nielsen; yesterday, about two percent of all tweets included the term.

Admittedly, this data could just mean that people are making fun of the nonstop coverage, but that’s where the Hitwise info enters the equation.  The top swine flu-related search terms include non-comedic words like symptoms, outbreak, and pandemic.

Heather Hopkins also wrote, "The CDC website, which alone received more than one third of visits from searches for ‘swine flu’, saw its share of US internet visits jump 63% last week.  Visits to the site were higher than they’ve been in the past three years."

So it may be time to make a trip to a medical supply store.  Even if you’re not worked up enough to buy those surgical masks, some cotton for your ears to shut out all the hysteria may come in handy.