Friday, November 13, 2009

The Spread of Swine Flu: Blame it on Louisiana

Nate Silver has a map based on data from Google Flu Trends that shows the timeline of the spread of swine flu around the US:

spread of swine flu us map

Google Flu Trends works by applying the Google Panopticon to searches that correlate with CDC data on actual flu cases, and has the benefit of being immediately responsive to trends in outbreaks of influenza (CDC data tends to lag by a week or two).

Says Silver:
This map is fascinating on a number of levels. Although the initial outbreak of H1N1 back in April was centered on Texas, California, New York, Illinois and South Carolina, the place where the flu first hit critical mass several months later was in Louisiana. It then slowly radiated its way outward to most of the neighboring states -- Maine finally hit the 5,000-point threshold just last week. There also appear to be other points from which the flu spread -- a less prominent 'epicenter', for instance, centered in Minnesota and the Dakotas. And somehow, there came to be quite a lot of flu at various points in both Alaska and Hawaii -- Hawaii's peak actually came way back in June and July, well before the one in the Deep South.
Here's something I don't begin to understand: everyone kept saying there'd be a second wave of swine flu in the fall, because the slu likes colder temperatures. Sure enough that second wave came to pass - but it looks like it actually erupted in one of the warmest regions of the country at the height of summer. That makes the opposite of sense to me.

Anyhoo, here's some good news, according to Nate: "the flu is pretty much on the decline in all states except Northern New England." Though if you're looking for a reason to feel glum, you should be informed that more people have died in the US from swine flu than died in the attacks of September 11, and most of them were fairly young.

Meanwhile, I see that Google is going global (or at least semi-global) with their flu map:

google flu map of the world

Bad times for cold places.

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Proofread your post next time. It only takes a few minutes and you look smarter.

Chachy said...

I'm keeping "the slu likes cold temperatures" up there just to spite you, anon.

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