With each passing day, many of us are checking ourselves for any flu-like symptoms as the media tells us about a potential pandemic: Swine Flu. A common sneeze now merits a steady stare from passerbys, a cough now garners much more attention. In times like this tech can help. Enter Google Maps.
This user-created Google Map shows a lot of information based on location. The map uses a color coded system to identify suspect cases of H1N1, Swine Flu (in pink), confirmed or probable cases (in Purple) and suspected but negative test results (in yellow). Deaths attributed to the Swine Flu are shown lacking a dot in the marker.
It is far too easy to listen to the nightly news or Twitter, as our Sue Walsh found out, and feel hysteria creeping up. Using Google Maps, users can see how many cases are around them, and around the world. A quick look at the map this morning shows zero cases in all of New England and the Pacific Northwest.
While following the CDC’s recommendations on washing hands and staying home if you feel ill should be heeded, a little bit of perspective is called for.
The map is updated, though it is not clear how frequently. As with the Twitter post Sue wrote, it is good to take all of this with a grain of salt. Basing fear/sense of well-being on a user-generated map or tweet is a gamble at best.