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Google Tracks the Flu

Google is trying to use technology to track the spread of the flu. The search engine itself warns that the best data are going to come from the CDC, but it's an interesting experiment.

There is some evidence that there was a surge of Google queries from Mexico related to swine flu a few days before Mexican officials made the outbreak official.

It's a very interesting idea. Do you think such early warning systems can aid public health officials, or do you think they might cause unnecessary panic given that searches can easily reflect the state of rumors rather than the facts?

By Shankar Vedantam  |  May 1, 2009; 9:17 AM ET
Categories:  Opinions , Prevention , Rumors  
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