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Irritated at recurring symptoms? Searching for an online diagnosis on google is not a bad idea before visiting the doctor.

The habit of searching on internet for an online diagnosis before visiting a doctor can provide early warning of an infectious disease epidemic, says a study.


In the study published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, internet-based surveillance has been found to detect infectious diseases such dengue fever and influenza up to two weeks earlier than traditional surveillance methods.

“This is because traditional surveillance relies on the patient recognising the symptoms and seeking treatment before diagnosis, along with the time taken for health professionals to alert authorities,” said Wenbiao Hu, senior research fellow at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia.


Representational image. IANS

There was often a lag time of two weeks before traditional surveillance methods could detect an emerging infectious disease. “In contrast, digital surveillance can provide real-time detection of epidemics,” Hu added.

The study found by using digital surveillance through search engine algorithms such as Google Trends and Google Insights, detecting the 2005-06 avian influenza outbreak ‘Bird Flu’ would have been possible between one and two weeks earlier than official surveillance reports.

“In another example, a digital data collection network was found to be able to detect the SARS outbreak more than two months before the first publications by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” he said.

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Early detection means early warning and that can help reduce or contain an epidemic, as well alert public health authorities to ensure risk management strategies such as the provision of adequate medication are implemented, the study noted.

Hu said social media tools including twitter and facebook could also be effective in detecting disease outbreaks.

“There is the potential for digital technology to revolutionise emerging infectious disease surveillance,” he added. (IANS)


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Tech giant Amazon has expanded the sound detection capabilities of Alexa along with more features.

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When Alexa detects that the faucet has been left open, it will send users a notification as well so they can take appropriate action, it added. Amazon previously said at its event in September that it would add the ability to programme Alexa to recognise custom sounds, but that feature has yet to arrive. Having said that, the two new sound detection capabilities not only help users save energy, but they also make it easier to avoid paying for unnecessary charges on your home utilities, the report said.

The retail giant has also announced ultrasound motion detection, which will allow you to set up "Occupancy Routines" on additional Echo devices. This feature allows your smart speaker to detect nearby motion and initiate a routine, such as turning on the lights. It is compatible with many of the best Alexa speakers including the 4th-gen Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock. (IANS/ MBI)


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