As the flu season begins in the southern hemisphere, we're excited to announce the expansion of Google Flu Trends to Australia and New Zealand.
By using aggregated search data, we've been able to produce estimates of flu activity for these countries in the same manner as in the United States and Mexico. We continue to see a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms.
While some existing flu tracking systems may take days or weeks to collect and release data, Google search queries can be counted immediately. Google Flu Trends is updated daily and may provide early detection of flu outbreaks. We hope that this information complements existing flu surveillance efforts in Australia and New Zealand, and proves useful for individuals and public health responders.
We're keenly aware of the trust our users place in us and our responsibility to protect their privacy. Google Flu Trends cannot be used to identify individual users. The patterns we observe are only meaningful across large populations of Google searchers.
For those Kiwis and Aussies out there, avoid becoming part of our statistics and get a flu shot! And keep an eye on those graphs if you're curious to see how the flu season unfolds.