As the influenza season begins in the northern hemisphere I thought it a great time to draw your attention to two websites that hope to track influenza-like symptoms (ILIS) around the world.
The first is Google Flu Trends at (www.google.org/flutrends ). This relies on data provided by America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and from other such organisations in other countries. It gathers data from such things as sick notes handed out by doctors for flu like symptoms.
The second website (www.flusurvey.org.uk) is asking for volunteers to sign up in advance of the winter season, following the health of the participants “on the go”. This “citizen science” project will operate in 10 European countries and hopes to recruit 50,000 people. Through acquiring volunteers it’s possible to look for links within the data for such things as the age, the sex and possibly whether those affected are part of a risk group such as being asthmatic. Certain strains carry unusual symptoms (Swine flu is associated with diarrhoea) and so its hoped the study may catch new strains as they emerge the winter months.