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Google, epidemiology tool

Researchers have found a nifty new use for Google -- the popular search tool may be able to track the spread of the deadly bacterial disease, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). 

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Scanning electron micrograph depicting numerous clumps of MRSACENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

Researchers have found a nifty new use for Google -- the popular search tool may be able to track the spread of the deadly bacterial disease, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). In a paper published last week on the website of Emerging Infectious Diseases, University of Chicago epidemiologist Diane Lauderdale and colleagues compared Google searches for information on MRSA from 2004 to 2008 to hospital records of the disease. They found a strong correlation between the online searches and the disease's spread. "Potentially, we can get from Google a more timely measure of trends," Lauderdale told Wired.

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