Google begins tracking swine flu in Mexico

Experimental project may not be accurate, but tries for real-time picture of flu's spread

Google Inc. is running an experiment of sorts to follow the swine flu's path through Mexico.

The company is trying to compile information from swine flu-related Google searches in Mexico to map out how the disease is spreading through the country.

The Mexican effort is based on Google Flu Trends which the company launched last November in the United States. At the time, Google officials said that they had found a connection between people searching for flu information and the number of people who actually have the flu in any given area. "Google Flu Trends may be able to detect influenza outbreaks earlier than other systems because it estimates flu activity in near real time," said Jeremy Ginsberg, one of the engineers on the Google Flu Trends project, during a press conference Wednesday.

Ginsberg acknowledged that the new effort, dubbed "Experimental Flu Trends for Mexico", may produce somewhat faulty data due to the lack of available current information from the Mexican government.

"While we would prefer to validate this data and improve its accuracy, we decided to release an early version today so that it might help public health officials and concerned individuals get an up-to-date picture of the ongoing swine flu outbreak," said Ginsberg in a blog post that went up today, as well. "Our current estimates of flu activity in the U.S. are still generally low as would be expected given the relatively low confirmed swine flu case count. However, we'll be keeping an eye on the data to look for any spike in activity."

The swine flu has been spreading - and spreading fear - across the world in recent days.

Wednesday, the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert from four to five, the second-highest level. CNN.com reported that Dr. Margaret Chan, the U.N. agency's director-general, said the decision means that all countries should "immediately" activate pandemic preparedness plans.

Swine flu, a highly contagious respiratory disease, has a mortality rate of between 1% and 4%, according to the World Health Organization. While initially spread into humans by contact with pigs, the virus then mutates and spreads human to human.

As of 7am AEST, the Washington Post was reporting that the U.S. had 91 confirmed cases of swine flu, while there have been 367 confirmed cases in Mexico and nearly 500 across the world.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Googlegoogle trendsswine flu

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?