Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - You may have seen people complaining about flu symptoms on social media sights. Although you may not like seeing, experts say it could help.
Researchers at John Hopkins University developed a way to filter flu Tweets. There are also many other sites that track flu symptoms on the Internet. They said this real-time information would help them get ahead of the curve, showing trends before the virus spreads and becomes an epidemic.
They said the most important piece of information is the GPS system attached to the Twitter site. They say this allows them to give advanced warning to doctors and hospitals so they have enough supplies when they see the flue spreading quickly in a particular area. There is a current system that tracks the flu but the information is more than two weeks old by the time the date is released.
Early warnings are good not only for researchers but also the public. They said it would push people to get vaccinated before they catch the flu, following the flu breakout on Twitter in one particular area.
It is not just the flu that is being tracked. Another research group called Sick Weather is pulling information from Facebook and Twitter about illness including Chicken Pox, colds, Whooping Cough and even depression.