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Using Twitter to track the flu: A better way to screen the Tweets
Date:1/28/2013

provement in tracking with CDC figures as compared to previous Twitter-based tracking methods. "In late December," Dredze added, "the news media picked up on the flu epidemic, causing a somewhat spurious rise in the rate produced by our Twitter system. But our new algorithm handles this effect much better than other systems, ignoring the spurious spike in tweets."

The researchers have also used their Twitter data to produce United States maps that document the stark differences between last year's mild flu season and the much higher incidence of the virus in the winter of 2012-2013.

While their new method was only recently developed, the Johns Hopkins researchers chose to release information on the flu tracking system because of the higher incidence of illness this winter. Team members hope to share the enhanced flu tracking method with leading government health agencies.

"This new work demonstrates that Twitter posts can be used to guide public health officials in their response to outbreaks of infectious diseases," Dredze said. "Our hope is that the new technology can be used track other diseases as well."


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Contact: Phil Sneiderman
prs@jhu.edu
443-287-9960
Johns Hopkins University
Source:Eurekalert  

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