Thursday November 21, 2019

Googling About Symptoms Can Predict Disease

The study was found by using digital surveillance through search engine algorithms such as Google Trends and Google Insights

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Google users
Google unveils new shopping search features for Indian users. Pixabay

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.
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)

Next Story

Here’s Why Living in Greener Areas is Important!

The longitudinal study, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, used data from over 6,000 adults, aged between 45-69 from the UK

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Greener Areas
Long-term exposure to Greener Areas could play an important role in preventing metabolic syndrome as a whole, as well as individual components such as large waist circumference, high levels of blood fats or hypertension. Pixabay

Middle-aged and older adults that live in Greener Areas were at a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome than those living in areas with less green spaces, a new study said.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together and include obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar levels and abnormal fat levels.

“The study found more health benefits in those areas with higher tree coverage, which provides a basis for investigating the types of vegetation that impact positively on our health,” said study author Payam Dadvand from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.

In this study, the researchers examined the link with metabolic syndrome as a whole, providing an indicator of overall cardiometabolic health, and in the long-term.

The longitudinal study, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, used data from over 6,000 adults, aged between 45-69 from the UK.

Participants underwent four examinations over 14 years (1997-2013), with a series of tests including blood analysis, blood pressure and waist circumference measurements.

Residential greenness was determined by satellite images.

Greener Areas
Middle-aged and older adults that live in Greener Areas were at a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome than those living in areas with less green spaces, a new study said. Wikimedia Commons

These findings suggest that long-term exposure to Greener Areas could play an important role in preventing metabolic syndrome as a whole, as well as individual components such as large waist circumference, high levels of blood fats or hypertension.

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The association observed was higher for women than for men.

The study showed that people living in greener areas have slower cognitive decline. Less stress, greater longevity, or a better overall and mental health are other benefits proved by scientific studies. (IANS)