Using “Google trends” for dengue surveillance and epidemiological research
Keywords:Google trends, Dengue, Public health surveillance, Epidemiology, Information technology
Millions of people worldwide search online for health-related information and search engines have become an increasingly popular resource for accessing health-related information and provides valuable source. Key words used as well as the number and geographic location of searches can provide trend data, available by Google trends. In this study exploring this resource using dengue disease as an example. Objectives were to use Google trends data for comparison across different locations in India for the past 5 years, and to assess the specific search terms used in Google trends data and to correlate the real time dengue outbreak of Tamil Nadu with Google trend search. It was a cross sectional study. Data collection was done via Google search queries and record was included. Weekly trends were accessed from Google Trends. Data is a randomly collected sample of real time and non-real time Google search queries. Search traffic for the string “dengue fever” reflected increased likelihood of exposure and the string “dengue symptoms and treatment” had higher relative traffic during rainy season. Cities and states with the highest amount of search traffic for “dengue disease” overlapped where dengue is endemic. Found that search trend data produced by Google to approximate the seasonality, spikes at September to November every year and geographic distribution also identified in dengue disease. Web search query data were found to be capable of tracking dengue activity and predict periods of large incidence of dengue with high accuracy and may prove useful.
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