The Flu Feedback Loop

Jan 11 2013 @ 1:57pm

Flu_Intensity

Michael Byrne ponders it:

[W]hile it's true that a whole lot of people have a flu and we may be facing an epidemic in which people die, all of that is magnified in a pretty new, interesting way. Search-based data faces the likelihood of being skewed by a feedback loop of sorts, with the map itself (and other media) increasing search queries for flu (even among non-sick users) and, in turn, reddening the map more, particularly if the current explosion of internet-based medicine continues apace.

I slept 13 hours last night, sweating through a few t-shirts and boxers, coughing up what looked like dark gray phlegm (mmmm), and basically attached to every inhaler I have. This is serious, guys. I had the shot and may have gotten off easy (although I wouldn't call the last two weeks of misery easy). Get your shot ASAP. And get off the Internet flu searches. You're making it look even worse.

(Above: Flu map from Google. Orange = high flu activity. Red = intense flu activity.)