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Report: Google researchers track chicken pox outbreaks

May 31, 2016

According to a new report, Google Trends can not only tell you about the latest celebrity news, but also if there’s a chicken pox outbreak.

Kevin Bakker has been pouring over a decade’s worth of Google Trends data.   He’s a doctoral student in the UM Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

He wanted to see what it told him about chicken pox.  Or more precisely, what parents were asking about the disease.  

Bakker noticed that those Google searches declined sharply, after government-mandated vaccination programs started.

He says this kind of “digital epidemiology” may also help health officials to take future disease outbreaks. 

This study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.