Tracking the Flu Using Phones and Facebook

By Beverly White and Bill French
|  Tuesday, Jan 8, 2013  |  Updated 11:37 PM PDT
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Early health statistics point to widespread misery as a particularly strong flu virus makes its way west. Learn how residents are tracking the bug. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2013

Beverly White and Edwin Calderon

Early health statistics point to widespread misery as a particularly strong flu virus makes its way west. Learn how residents are tracking the bug. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2013

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SoCal Braces for Powerful Flu Virus

Health experts say a flu outbreak is headed toward Southern California. It began in the South and reached Arizona over the holidays. Jane Yamamoto reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2012.
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With such a strong flu season gripping the United States and fast approaching the west coast, tracking germs has gone digital.

On FluNearYou.org, volunteers post reports of illness and the severity of the outbreak is tracked by zip code. A Facebook application will check friends’ statuses for words like “cough” or “sneeze” to find who is most likely to get you sick, and the CDC has an app which tracks case data state by state.

So many people needed to be evaluated at Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Pennsylvania that patients were being triaged in tents on the parking lot for the safety of others at the hospital.

While hospitals in the Los Angeles area haven't seen anything like that yet, doctors advise that it's still early in flu season.

"In the last week, we've seen about ten patients with documented flu," said Dr. Stephen Kishineff of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank.

In response to the outbreak, Canada is releasing its national Tamiflu stockpile, anticipating a treatment shortage the United States has not seen thus far.

"You must use it within the first 48 hour of symptoms," said Kishineff. "The average person doesn't come in within 48 hours. They say I have a cold, a cough. They wait two or three days; by then it's too late to use Tamiflu." 

MORE INFORMATION:

CDC's Page on Season Influenza (Flu)

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