Friday, January 2, 2009

No Flu for me, thank you!

It's a given that Congenital Heart Defect Survivors need to try to keep themselves as healthy as they can. Our weakened bodies are susceptible to just about every illness that comes along, from the common cold to that winter monster... the Flu!

The first thing you should do, of course, is check with your cardiologist. If he/she recommends it, get the flu shot! This should be second nature to us by now - when the weather gets cold, we put on an extra layer of clothes, try to remember where we stored our gloves and scarf, and get the flu shot.

There are two web based resources that can also be useful in fighting the flu bug: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) maintains a web page dedicated to information about the flu. They also offer an online weekly flu report. The weekly report usually refers to last week - it take a little time to compile all the information - but it is a very detailed assessment of Flu Activity in the United States. If you love numbers, charts and graphs, the weekly flu report is just your thing!

Google also offers a "flu tracking service", in a sense. They have flagged the words "flu" and "flu symptoms" in their search engine, and also flagged words that describe most of the major symptoms of the flu. They figure that when people start feeling sick, a lot of them will sit down at their computers and Google their symptoms. A lot of people do exactly that - and Google collects and tracks that information.

The result is Google FluTrends, a chart showing the number of people typing the symptoms into Google's search engine, along with a map showing the states those searches are coming from. Google says that unlike the CDC weekly report, their system anticipates the Flu. Because people tend to look up their symptoms as they appear, Google claims FluTrends is actually a day or two ahead of an outbreak. According to FluTrends, Texas is not the place to be right now!

Who's right? CDC has been tracking contagious illness for a long time, and they are good at it. But Google seems to be on to something... so why not use both?

1 comment:

Kim said...

Very cool information to have! After doing a nice round of the H-flu in our household, this chart will be checked often...