Chris J Powell

Big Data and Flu Season Predictions

Through out my work the Flu Season is starting to take hold and here in London, Ontario it is a combination of Strep Throat, Common Cold and the Flu that is running through the schools, work places and the general public. My wife would blame the up and down temperatures over the past month but I would say look to the Data…and that is just what two scientists in New York City claim they can now do!

I got my flu shot but the fact is I have come down with a cold…and it is starting to spread through my sinuses and into my chest making life very, very uncomfortable.  The great thing about getting better with data analysis is that predictive trends can start to be identified and if acted upon can start to end epidemics and pandemics before they really get their foot hold.

The New York City health scientists published a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled Forecasting seasonal outbreaks of influenza and in looking through the findings, it is more than obvious that the ability for Big Data to play an ever increasing role in supporting health professionals make solid and credible decisions is key to battling these tiny little “flu bugs” and other outbreaks before we have scenarios like the Walking Dead!

To have a 7 week head start on an influenza outbreak is a really big deal for medical professionals.  I am far from an expert in this kind of analysis but the reality is, the flu kills between 3000 and 49000 people each year (according to the CDC) in the United States alone so being able to get a head start…especially when the flu season this year has taken a solid foot hold through out the United States.

I strongly recommend that if you have not already…go and get your flu shot (unless you are already sick) but if you choose not to, here are a few simple suggestions to reduce the spread of this years flu:

  • Avoid close contact.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose.
  • Clean your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Cheers and Stay Healthy…I am going back to bed to try and beat this illness out of my system.


Chris J Powell

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