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Researchers Develop Real-Time Flu Outbreak Predictor

Posted on December 04 2013

Flu season has arrived. Every year from December to April influenza outbreaks are at their peak – which means the number of people infected within an area can increase in just days. How can you know when your area will be affected?

Good news has come for those who need to plan ahead for flu season:  researchers have developed a way to predict when and where the flu will strike throughout the US.

Much like a weather forecast, researchers are working on a program that is able to accurately predict the timing and intensity of a flu outbreak up to 2-4 weeks in advance. Utilizing the data from Google Flu Trends, the CDC and current data research updates, researchers tested their theory on 108 cities throughout the US during the 2012-2013 flu season. By the 4 week mark, predictions yielded a 63 percent accuracy rate that rose up to 74 percent later on in the season.

More research has yet to be done to finalize this system, but currently researchers are planning on making this system public so that people can take the proper measures to prepare for an outbreak in their area.

Benefits of Flu Predictor

- Proper flu prevention measures can be made to better prepare for an outbreak in an area.

- An increase in vaccinations, antiviral drugs, and other medical supplies can go to cities most in need

- Better determine which cities are in greater need of school closings to help stop the spread of disease

- Those who are at greater risk of developing the flu have an increased chance of survival (immune compromised individuals, elderly, infants, etc.)

What can you do in the meantime? Make sure you are prepared for the flu this month through the holidays into the spring. Keep hand sanitizer nearby, stock up on flu kits
and take exceptional care if your body is at a higher health risk of developing the flu


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