|Flu Near You tracks influenza-like illness based on self-reports from its users. The rate of influenza-like illness has risen among Americans in recent months.|
Today’s guest blog post is by John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and director of HealthMap.
If you can spare a few minutes each week, you can become a disease detective and help scientists track flu.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are hospitalized due to flu and complications stemming from the disease. Anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people die annually.
As you may already know, we're currently in the midst of a particularly severe flu season. Last week, the rate of Americans being hospitalized for flu nearly doubled. Flu Near You is a citizen science project developed by HealthMap of Boston Children’s Hospital and Ending Pandemics, in partnership with APHA.
Each week, we ask volunteers if they’ve experienced any of 10 symptoms that could indicate the spread of flu. Reminders come via push notifications to your mobile phone or through email. It only takes a few seconds to complete each week. All reports collected are completely anonymous.
Across the U.S., doctors and epidemiologists employed by state and local health departments work tirelessly alongside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track the spread of flu in order to plan for the use of vaccines and antiviral medications, staff up hospitals and clinics and identify when changes in the virus occur.
Flu Near You supports these efforts by freely sharing anonymized data with many state and local health departments as well as CDC. These data help to track influenza spread at the community level and ensure that doctors and hospitals have the resources they need to help those who fall ill.
Can you spare a few minutes to report your health this week?