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How big data can help you avoid the flu

Posting in Cities

Still haven’t gotten a flu shot? Thanks to a variety of data mining apps, you may still be able to avoid getting sick.

The influenza virus has reached epidemic status this season in major cities like New York and Boston with ten times more cases reported this year than last. As of November, only 35 percent of American adults had gotten a flu shot but vaccine or not, a new variety of iPhone and Facebook apps may give people at least some defense against the virus.

Here are just a few of the apps designed to help keep you influenza-free:

FluNearYou: FluNearYou is a recently launched public safety project that uses shared data to help the public, doctors, researchers and other health officials prepare for the pandemic. The website shares information from over 40,000 people and uses it to track trends and activity.

Germ Tracker: Using data and keywords from Facebook and Twitter, Germ Tracker tracks the virus as it spreads and alerts users to areas in which there is a “high” health risk.

Help, I Have the Flu: Similar to Germ Tracker, the Help, I Have the Flu app uses posts from social media platforms to round up information on influenza. The app scans your friends’ Facebook statuses for words like “sneeze,” “cough” and “flu,” alerting you if someone in your network is sick and allowing you to promptly avoid them.

Google’s Flu Trends- Google’s own flu-tracking tool uses aggregated Google search data to estimate areas in which flu activity is the highest. The tech giant found the incidence of those searching for the flu online closely matches actual flu activity. Right now, flu activity as “intense” in 41 states.

[via Venture Beat]

Image: FluTracker

— By on January 18, 2013, 11:00 PM PST

Sarah Korones

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sarah Korones is a freelance writer based in New York. She has written for Psychology Today and Boston's Weekly Dig. She holds a degree from Tufts University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure