Google helps hypochondriacs get the attention they need

Google staff have devised a way to help predict and manage outbreaks of influenza by collating common flu-related search terms such as “headache” and “runny nose”.

The company has compared past search terms to real-world data to allow it to model how search data reflects disease trends.

Downtime has been feeling under the weather this week, suffering from the aforementioned “headache” and “runny nose”, but a quick Google search confirms that it is not flu.

In fact, on the headache side, likely culprits include meningitis and Aids, and the runny nose is probably symptomatic of cystic fibrosis. It sure is a relief not to have flu.

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