Consumer Watch: Apps to help you get through the flu

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by Andy Treinen

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 17, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 17 at 5:39 PM

(WHAS11) -- Flu season is sweeping the nation and now, you can watch it happen in real time on the internet. Some free high-tech tools can track flu cases right down to the street they are on. Others can even tell you who might have gotten you sick.

VentureBeat writer Christina Farr called in sick and she began wondering who "got" her sick? Turns out there is an app for that, it’s a Facebook app called "help – my friend gave me the flu!"

“It'll scrape all the data from your different social networks, it'll start looking for the telltale signs, search terms like sneeze, cold, flu,” Farr said. 

In a few seconds, Christina got a list of four likely suspects who had posted about being sick.

Another app crawls Facebook and Twitter for posts about feeling ill. It’s called germ tracker, and it plots likely flu cases on a map.

"Fifty-five people do post on Facebook and especially Twitter these short little status updates just saying feeling pretty miserable and mentioning they might be working from home. These apps can pick up on that,” Farr said.

Another map called "flu near you" relies on 40,000 volunteers to report every week if they have the flu. Just click on any city.

"It will show you whether the flu risk is high or not, and whether the people around you are sick,” Farr said.  But Farr says her favorite comes from Google, a map that shows who's searching for flu symptoms or remedies.

Each of the web sites paints a slightly different picture. But, together they form a big picture that public health officials say can be just as valuable as the CDC’s official numbers.
 

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