Building on Google Flu Trends, now researchers are using Google queries to better understand the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (or "MRSA"). Science Life reports:
The data showed a steady rise in the number of searches for MRSA, staph, and even “mersa” that mirrored the increase in hospitalizations for MRSA over that same time period. Surprisingly, media reports about the drug-resistant bacteria were not very influential on the number of searches, except for the coverage of a 2007 CDC report that MRSA caused nearly 19,000 deaths in the year 2005 - which prompted a spike of Googling. As such, the team was able to create a model using the Google queries that predicted the rate of MRSA hospitalization with considerable accuracy, as reflected by the red and pink lines in the graph above.
Previously: Could predictive software defeat drug-resistant bacteria?