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CDC Adopts Near Real-Time Flu Tracking System

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the you've-got-the-flu-swine dept.

Medicine 102

CWmike writes "The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched an effort this week to better and more easily track for H1N1 and other seasonal influenza activity throughout the US. The CDC said it is now tracking data on 14 million patients from physician practices and hospitals stored on a database hosted by GE Healthcare. The data is submitted daily from physicians' offices and hospitals that use GE's electronic medical record system. The data is then uploaded to GE Healthcare's Medical Quality Improvement Consortium, a database repository designed with HIPAA-compliance parameters of patient anonymity and best practices, where it can be the subject of medical data queries. The CDC can perform queries to look for flu-like symptoms being reported by physicians, and then disseminate the data for health care providers and local government officials throughout the country, who can alert businesses and others about flu outbreak hot spots. The CDC also hopes its analysis of the data helps it better understand the characteristics of H1N1 outbreaks and to determine who is most at risk for developing complications from the virus. Prior to implementing the new system, the CDC relied heavily on tracking insurance claims data, which could take days or weeks to make its way to the agency's medical staff for analysis. The medical data is normalized so that, for example, reports of hypertension, HTN, and high blood pressure all mean the same thing when a researcher enters a query against the data."

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And Look at How Useful It Is! (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005206)

You can find the latest map on the CDC site [cdc.gov] and look at how helpful it is! Apparently everyone's boned except for DC, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Since there's no report of flu in the Virgin Islands, I propose the government provides free plane tickets for anyone who isn't infected so that they might escape the wave of vomit brewing in our fair country.

But in all seriousness their report does have some decent data on it [cdc.gov] .

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (5, Funny)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005384)

there's no report of flu in the Virgin Islands

Uh. Dood. According to the CDC, there was no report of any kind received from the Virgin Islands. That's right, silence! Now what do you suppose *that* means, eh? That's right, EVERYONE in the Virgin Islands has already died from the flu and probably turned into hideous flesh-eating monstrosities!
Do NOT go there.
It would be bad.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

FeepingCreature (1132265) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005580)

That tunnel leads to the Virgin Islands.

We don't go there anymore.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007270)

It's okay - I've been playing the L4D2 demo on expert for the past week. I think I'll be fine.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30007410)

A communications disruption could mean only one thing: invasion

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007510)

And more specifically, alien invasion.

This flu season: Maybe partly government fraud. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30009578)

Be skeptical about flu reports. [futurepower.net] For example, almost all reports about the flu give an incorrect name, possibly showing the level of understanding of the author. "H1N1" is a major type of flu, not a specific strain.

I notice that whenever there is a lot of joking on Slashdot, there is apparently an underlying feeling of skepticism, even if the skepticism is not conscious.

Note that the map linked in the grandparent comment says "*This map indicates geographic spread and does not measure the severity of influenza activity." Apparently that means that, if one person in a state had the flu, the entire state would be marked by the CDC as having flu activity.

Re:This flu season: Maybe partly government fraud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30011514)

omg rly? i also heard on the intertubes that george w bush blew up the twin towers and that donald duck landed on the moon before neil armstrong!!1! i always thought that was just paranoid bullshit spewn by partisan fuckheads!!111 but now, thanks to this noble carrier of the truth who took a minute out of his busy schedule fighting off cia assassins to share with me the troof here on slashdot skeptical. ty

Re:This flu season: Maybe partly government fraud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30012084)

Anger problem? Americans really, really, really don't want to know how corrupt is their government. Anger is one of their defenses against knowing.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005466)

Are they correlating this data with the fear of people [slashdot.org] of getting H1N1 in an airplane?

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (3, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005982)

Are they correlating this data with the fear of people [slashdot.org] of getting H1N1 in an airplane?

I recently sent an e-mail to a local radio station after they read a news item stating that, so far this year, 12 people have died from the swine flu in my state. I sent them a letter because that's all that the news item said. It did not mention that about 1600 die of the regular old influenza every year. With all the hysteria about this issue I think some perspective is very badly needed. It's just piss-poor journalism to report a raw figure with no context like this.

Your comment about the fear of H1N1 made me think about the various ways that it's being encouraged. To me that's just media sensationalism, which is not really unusual because it sells. Is H1N1 a threat to some people? Probably so; I am not a doctor so I should not say too much on that. Do I personally feel threatened by it? Not in the slightest. It'd be a nuisance to me, but not a threat. There's no way I am going to cower in fear and alter my life over it. It is their own damned laziness but the fact is most people aren't going to do their own research on this one. If there were more perspective and context in media reports about H1N1, it would be much easier for others to make up their own minds as I have done.

Even if this is or were a true threat to life and limb, acting like a bunch of panicked animals is the wrong way to reduce a threat.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30006730)

I had an epiphany while trying to describe attitudes like yours to someone else yesterday. I was trying to put into words why it aggravates me so much when it suddenly hit me. I was watching 3 or 4 live streams last year when the outbreak was first detected, and we were being bombarded with press conferences as one state after another started announcing how many cases they were treating. As it happens, I was in the middle of making my first serious attempt at writing a novel about a pandemic and all the hysteria it may cause. Of course, now that we're in the middle of one, there's really no point to finishing the book. Having said that, I had researched dozens of reports, information sites from both government and non-government entities, and other things like various states' emergency response plans. It was actually pretty cool having the various states' plans open while "following along" through live streaming on the net. Then someone wrote a post somewhere that aggravated me to my core. He wrote, "call me when there are 36,000 dead because that's how many die every year."

What his, and apparently your, thoughts about this don't take into account is that we may pass the typical number of fatalities on a single day as the body count rises from say, 28,000 to 42,000. In that hypothetical situation, you and that guy are ready to start caring. What are you going to do the next day when the count climbs from 42,000 to 60,000? At what point do you shit yourself? I watched a symposium on pandemic flu given by the NIH as part of my research, and I learned an interesting fact. During the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, approximately 4,500 people died in the City of Philadelphia during the course of *one week*.

Yet you two don't want to do anything until the death toll passes the normal annual figure. Please don't take my word for it. Do your own research. Spend just a little bit of time reading up on the topic. Think about the logistics, and hopefully you will form an opinion that you feel is well-informed and is something you can defend. But just turning your back and calling it scaremongering is irresponsible and dangerous. A lot of people are going to die during the second wave. If we wait until you suggest before taking action, it will be way too late.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

CKW (409971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007144)

It'd be a tragedy, and I might loose a couple good friends, but the golden lining of the pandemic killing a couple million people in Western countries would be that it's more likely the dead would be the ones prone to believing in conspiracy theories and the like. The rest of us having gone and gotten immunized.

Finally -- Darwin Awards on a massive systematic scale.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30008972)

It'd be a tragedy, and I might loose a couple good friends, but the golden lining of the pandemic killing a couple million people in Western countries would be that it's more likely the dead would be the ones prone to believing in conspiracy theories and the like. The rest of us having gone and gotten immunized.

Finally -- Darwin Awards on a massive systematic scale.

Ah yes the good old "any alternative viewpoint must be a conspiracy theory" bit. I wish some of you would find a different playbook, because these easily-refuted [wikipedia.org] tactics [wikipedia.org] are rather tedious and boring. At any rate, I think that H1N1 has been overhyped and that, speaking only for myself (you want medical advice, talk to a doctor because I am not a doctor) the threat it poses has been greatly exaggerated. That's a conspiracy theory?

I'll give an analogy. What if I said that Windows Vista was overhyped? Does that also require a conspiracy? Can I not just review its features and known issues and decide that it's not as great as some people would have you believe? Or do you think there's no possible way for me to say that without believing in a bunch of shadowy figures in a smoky back room?

I realize that there exist people who think there is a conspiracy behind the H1N1 issue. If that bothers you, talk to those people. I have made no such claims and it's in poor taste at best to try to lump me together with them merely because I offer dissent. The weakness of that tactic is extreme. The message it's based on is, "I disagree with you, therefore something is wrong with you." It's abundantly possible for reasonable people to disagree on an issue. Unfortunately, they stop being reasonable once they resort to tactics like those.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007586)

I had an epiphany while trying to describe attitudes like yours to someone else yesterday. I was trying to put into words why it aggravates me so much when it suddenly hit me. I was watching 3 or 4 live streams last year when the outbreak was first detected, and we were being bombarded with press conferences as one state after another started announcing how many cases they were treating. As it happens, I was in the middle of making my first serious attempt at writing a novel about a pandemic and all the hysteria it may cause. Of course, now that we're in the middle of one, there's really no point to finishing the book. Having said that, I had researched dozens of reports, information sites from both government and non-government entities, and other things like various states' emergency response plans. It was actually pretty cool having the various states' plans open while "following along" through live streaming on the net. Then someone wrote a post somewhere that aggravated me to my core. He wrote, "call me when there are 36,000 dead because that's how many die every year."

What his, and apparently your, thoughts about this don't take into account is that we may pass the typical number of fatalities on a single day as the body count rises from say, 28,000 to 42,000. In that hypothetical situation, you and that guy are ready to start caring. What are you going to do the next day when the count climbs from 42,000 to 60,000? At what point do you shit yourself? I watched a symposium on pandemic flu given by the NIH as part of my research, and I learned an interesting fact. During the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, approximately 4,500 people died in the City of Philadelphia during the course of *one week*.

Yet you two don't want to do anything until the death toll passes the normal annual figure. Please don't take my word for it. Do your own research. Spend just a little bit of time reading up on the topic. Think about the logistics, and hopefully you will form an opinion that you feel is well-informed and is something you can defend. But just turning your back and calling it scaremongering is irresponsible and dangerous. A lot of people are going to die during the second wave. If we wait until you suggest before taking action, it will be way too late.

It was way before my time, but if I had lived during the 1950s-1960s I would have voluntarily accepted a polio vaccine. Why? Because polio is a horrible crippling illness that can maim someone for life. That's a real threat.

For what I am about to say now, it must be understood that I am speaking only for myself. I am not a doctor. Therefore, I would not dream of telling someone else what they should do about a medical issue. You as an individual must handle this as you see fit, which is exactly what I am doing for myself.

Having said that, I have done the research (your assumption that I haven't was cute) and I fit none of the characteristics of people who are at risk for serious complications for swine flu. If I came down with the swine flu, I'd feel like shit for a few days to a week and then I would get over it. This is a nuisance, but it's not a threat. It doesn't scare me.

What does bother me is when words like "global pandemic" get thrown around because of their emotional impact. Perhaps people have short memories these days, but I remember SARS, West Nile, Hoof and Mouth, avian flu, and there are probably others that I don't recall right now. Each one of them was treated by the media very much like H1N1. Body count has nothing to do with this; perspective does.

Think about the logistics, and hopefully you will form an opinion that you feel is well-informed and is something you can defend. But just turning your back and calling it scaremongering is irresponsible and dangerous.

In my case, it IS scaremongering. If many other healthy adults decided (for themselves, without my assistance) that they felt the same way, I would not be the least bit surprised. The "danger" is one that I personally assume without forcing anyone else to do the same. So from whom or from what would I defend my position? From people who should make up their own minds about an important issue instead of listening to the personal, non-medical opinions of a guy on Slashdot? Please, let's be reasonable. If you are suggesting I don't have the right to decide this for myself, I will have an absolute field day with you because you won't have a leg to stand on.

If we wait until you suggest before taking action, it will be way too late.

Who's this "we" you refer to? I am an individual, not a member of a herd. As an individual I don't feel remotely threatened by H1N1. If you as an individual do feel threatened by it, then you can, will, and should do whatever you believe to be necessary to mitigate that threat. Everyone else is free to do likewise. I'd love to know what's wrong with that. Really, I would. I can only speculate that it deprives you of the (fake) security you derive from knowing that there are like-minded people who believe as you do. But if you think you have a good, internally consistent argument against my stance, please do enlighten us.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007704)

What his, and apparently your, thoughts about this don't take into account is that we may pass the typical number of fatalities on a single day as the body count rises from say, 28,000 to 42,000. In that hypothetical situation, you and that guy are ready to start caring. What are you going to do the next day when the count climbs from 42,000 to 60,000? At what point do you shit yourself? I watched a symposium on pandemic flu given by the NIH as part of my research, and I learned an interesting fact. During the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, approximately 4,500 people died in the City of Philadelphia during the course of *one week*.

But the deaths started rolling in when the virus first hit Philadelphia, not after it had been bouncing around the community for months killing a tiny fraction of a percent of the people who got it. Growth of any illness is generally exponential based on contact, but death rate is generally linear in the number of infected. Therefore, if we're seeing a low death rate as a percentage of the population (and we are for H1N1), we will still see a low death rate as a percentage even if everyone got it. Judging from current stats, even if everyone in the U.S. got swine flu---every single man, woman, and child, based on current mortality figures, there would still be less than a factor of ten increase in deaths from the seasonal flu, and it is highly unlikely that we will see anywhere near a 100% infection rate.

Put another way, the chances of a virus mutating from killing single digit people to tens of thousands overnight are slim, and are probably equally likely whether you're talking about a mutation of H1N1 or of the common cold.

Yet you two don't want to do anything until the death toll passes the normal annual figure.

I think most of the folks saying "call me when it exceeds 36,000 deaths in a year" are really saying, "call me when the death toll is significantly higher than seasonal flu as a percentage of the infected or the percentage of exposed people who get infected is dramatically higher." In other words, "call me when the predicted annual death rate is expected to exceed 36,000 in a year." And that's a perfectly reasonable position.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 4 years ago | (#30009450)

Yet you two don't want to do anything until the death toll passes the normal annual figure.

You're putting words in peoples mouths. No one said to do nothing, just that making Swine Flu into a bigger deal than the regular flu (did your research reveal that the regular flu virus is different every year?) is pointless.

Or is there something about the Swine Flu virus that makes it more dangerous than "just another flu virus variant"?

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30010210)

You're putting words in peoples mouths.

That's an extremely common technique around here. Well, that and ad-hominem attacks. I don't think it's deliberate so much as it's a product of ignorance about argumentation and reasoning. Anyone who resorts to such tactics is substituting them for useful debate. Ergo, they are taking a very weak position even if they otherwise would have had a valid point. Still, since you know how to deal with that, it means you know how to deal with almost anyone here.

That can be contrasted against the relative few who really do have insight and know how to use it. Some of them have made me look at things differently or caused me to consider ideas that may not have occurred to me. In that sense they did me a service, and I had no problem telling them so and thanking them. That, to me, is the real value of participating in discussions like this. Some folks here really are both knowledgable and skilled and I appreciate being able to learn from them.

I'll add that there is no shame whatsoever in saying "that's a really good point; my position was mistaken" but there is cowardice behind being too proud to admit that. I mention this because that AC is suddenly very silent despite the passion he or she claimed to have about this issue. When I say that, I don't think I am telling you anything you don't already know, of course, but I did want to emphasize that for others who might be following this thread.

I believe I can see that you value this kind of understanding for your own edification. Still, I wanted to compliment you. It's always refreshing to hear from folks who can call things what they are.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30009176)

I recently sent an e-mail to a local radio station after they read a news item stating that, so far this year, 12 people have died from the swine flu in my state. I sent them a letter because that's all that the news item said. It did not mention that about 1600 die of the regular old influenza every year. With all the hysteria about this issue I think some perspective is very badly needed. It's just piss-poor journalism to report a raw figure with no context like this.

It also has something to do with the piss-poor state of people's understanding of statistics in general. Your story is a classic example of how society needs to put a lot more emphasis on education when it comes to stats. I'd even put forward a "law" of information theory regarding this: the actionable value of data increases by the amount of its supporting data. So in this example, saying that 12 people have died of swine flu has a value of 0 (it has no context so it's meaningless). Saying that 1600 die of regular flu every year increases its value by 1, saying that last year 2500 people died of regular flu increases it by +1 again, saying that flue deaths this century have averaged 0.007% of that of the annual rate 100 years ago increases it +1 again, etc.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30009290)

I recently sent an e-mail to a local radio station after they read a news item stating that, so far this year, 12 people have died from the swine flu in my state. I sent them a letter because that's all that the news item said. It did not mention that about 1600 die of the regular old influenza every year. With all the hysteria about this issue I think some perspective is very badly needed. It's just piss-poor journalism to report a raw figure with no context like this.

It also has something to do with the piss-poor state of people's understanding of statistics in general. Your story is a classic example of how society needs to put a lot more emphasis on education when it comes to stats. I'd even put forward a "law" of information theory regarding this: the actionable value of data increases by the amount of its supporting data. So in this example, saying that 12 people have died of swine flu has a value of 0 (it has no context so it's meaningless). Saying that 1600 die of regular flu every year increases its value by 1, saying that last year 2500 people died of regular flu increases it by +1 again, saying that flue deaths this century have averaged 0.007% of that of the annual rate 100 years ago increases it +1 again, etc.

Sir, I'd mod you up to +5 if I had points. I think the real issue there is that if the public schools don't teach this, the average person won't know it. This is much to our collective shame. I have always believed it is a big mistake to wait for someone to come along and teach you important things out of the kindness of their hearts when basic literacy is the only requirement for educating yourself. It's a passive "spectator" approach to life and it means that many important things are left undone.

The folks in the media are another story. They have studied journalism. They should understand basic things like the need for context. They should know the value of comparing a new phenomenon to a similar phenomenon that is more well-known and better understood. As far as I am concerned, they have no excuse. But mediocrity thrives in an environment where it's rewarded by people who don't know better.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (4, Insightful)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005472)

Why on earth does the CDC need to use flash for a still, non interactive image??

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30005682)

You've never done software development for a government organization, have you?

I've seen sites like this put together in the past by large teams of "professional software development consultants". Even for a site that amounts to nothing more than an image that's changed a few times daily, you'll have reams and reams of architectural diagrams and documentation. You'll have massive class hierarchies. Four tiers (because three aren't abstract enough), each implementing MVC and loads of other design patterns. And don't forget CORBA and SOAP interfaces (although they'll never be used).

Most college students could put together something better in between a couple of classes, using a few lines of Perl.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (3, Funny)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005786)

You don't have clearance to see the flashy dots from the tracking beacons we were injected with.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (3, Insightful)

gaspyy (514539) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005894)

At first I thought the map updated dynamically via an xml, but it seems we have a flash movie that dynamically loads a big JPEG image and shows it - nothing more.

Improper use of a technology, nothing new.

Should I also count how many times I've seen a big js framework like jQuery being used for a trivial thing? I mean, load an entire 100Kb library to do something that could be done with 2-5 lines of javascript anyway...

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007884)

Improper use of a technology, nothing new.

Well, if that's done by the people, who are advising us on what they believe to be a life-and-death decisions, their improper use of technology is noteworthy, even if not, indeed, "new".

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | more than 4 years ago | (#30010132)

Actually, jQuery's only 55KB and goes down to 19KB if the browser supports gzipping if the server's configured to compress stuff, but I get your point. The difference there is that jQuery, unlike Flash, makes everything easier for the developer (creating a Flash document is easier than an img tag how?), and more importantly, takes care of discrepancies between JavaScript interpreters in different browsers (providing you use pure jQuery). Also, it doesn't require any extras from the browser's perspective: you were going to do it in JavaScript anyway, so all jQuery adds is (a potentially significant amount of) page load time. With Flash, you're also adding a dependency on the Flash plugin. They're both evil, but jQuery is definitely the lesser.

      --- Mr. DOS

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

ftobin (48814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007654)

Interestingly, if you have flash disabled (e.g., via NoScript), a JPG does show up instead of the flash image.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

zip_000 (951794) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006336)

Either the map has changed or you suck at geography!

That is South Carolina, not Georgia.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006470)

or.

you could just look at the google trends to see what CDC will be reporting next week

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006668)

Georgia? Did you mean South Carolina, or has the data changed in the last 2 hours?

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30007326)

That's South Carolina, not Georgia.

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 4 years ago | (#30008096)

Wow, everywhere has widespread flu activity! Just like every other year at this time! Everyone run for your lives!!

Re:And Look at How Useful It Is! (1)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30010328)

Since there's no report of flu in the Virgin Islands [...]

Dude, get with the times. Ever since Chuck Norris went there, they're just called "The Islands."

-b

Real Time? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30005252)

Why did that green dot just appear over my house on that map?

The really nice thing about this... (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005282)

is GE can then take the database info and use it to go after their credit card customers who might be sickest, that way ensuring they'll get their dough before the patients croak.

Re:The really nice thing about this... (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005626)

Here's the thing: Why the fuck would anybody have a GE credit card?

Re:The really nice thing about this... (1)

jdoverholt (1229898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005774)

I really needed four new tires :-(

Re:The really nice thing about this... (2, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005778)

Because its the only one they could get after their other nine cards were maxed out?

Re:The really nice thing about this... (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006220)

Oh, so the evil the mega-corporation did was to loan someone who wanted money some money. What bastards.

(I use a credit card, but I don't carry a balance, I think people who do are crazy, the idea that someone would max out 9 credit cards out of 'necessity' isn't very credible, clearly they need to find a way to spend less money, or to earn more money)

Re:The really nice thing about this... (1)

wwfarch (1451799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30009218)

I generally agree with this sentiment but I don't think carrying a balance at all is necessarily crazy. For example, when I first moved out on my own I had to buy a whole lot of things just to get on my feet. For this, I carried a balance. Maxing out 9 cards is obviously not in the same league as this though (unless each card has a balance of like $500).

Re:The really nice thing about this... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30009870)

Sure. A key aspect of it is that you planned to (relatively) quickly pay off the balance, you were using the credit to move your spending forward, not to increase your spending power.

Not knowing any worse (better) (1)

Eric Elliott (736554) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007196)

You must read fine print to know Walmart & Sam's Club cards are GE cards before clicking _apply_. GE has caused me to want to close both cards. On my list to do today.

Re:The really nice thing about this... (1)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30008946)

Here's the thing: Why the fuck would anybody have a GE credit card?

Because GE is a bank. That's what banks do.

What, you thought they made lightbulbs? Ha! I'll bet you also think that IBM (you know, the consulting company) makes computers!

Re:The really nice thing about this... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30010676)

I would tend to think of jet engines, and industrial and medical equipment. Or maybe NBC Universal. But I knew that had a large finance division, I was just antagonizing the OP for displaying an attitude that consumer credit card debt was somehow the sole fault of the corporation extending the credit and not in any way the responsibility of the cardholder.

I see.. (1, Funny)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005354)

Time travelling higgs-boson-baguette-dropping-birds you say?

GE Healthcare (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005376)

General Electric Healthcare?

Re:GE Healthcare (5, Informative)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005426)

Yes.

They are a very big division of GE, that makes equipment, like X-Ray machines, and software, such as electronic medical record software...

Interestingly enough, someone there has recently said that as profitable as GE Healthcare is, it doesn't bring in as much money as GE as a whole pays for healthcare for its employees.

Re:GE Healthcare (2, Interesting)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005868)

And Immelt is one of the big time White House visitors [nytimes.com] . With the health care division, and the "green" products, they stand to make a killing from this influence peddling. Not to mention their extension of the communications office, NBC News/MSNBC.

Re:GE Healthcare (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005890)

Keeping Your Robots Healthy (tm)

Fir example (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30005428)

Gotta love those fir trees

Map Google Searches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30005470)

Wasn't there something a while back where researchers were tracking the flue via google searches on flu or flu-like symptoms and corelating the requesting IPs with their geographical regions? That seemed better, because I had the flu, but I didn't go to a doctor...and by the time the doctor knows, the infected individual has already spread the germs. This GE system still lags considerably IMO.

Good data? (1)

zerosomething (1353609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005486)

This is purely antidotal but a colleague got sick and when to the doctor. The doctor, without testing, said he had H1N1. So is that the kind of data that's being used or is this coming from verified tests? Even if the doctors are telling the CDC it's verified who is checking that they actually did the tests?

Re:Good data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30005540)

Not sure, but, just a thought, you're colleague might want to look for a new doctor.

Re:Good data? (1)

zerosomething (1353609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005584)

He was told it's too expensive and there is a backlog of testing anyway.

Re:Good data? (4, Funny)

Whalou (721698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005654)

This is purely antidotal but a colleague got sick and when to the doctor.

If it's antidotal, he's probably cured now.

Re:Good data? (4, Interesting)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005658)

In the UK you're banned from entering your doctor's surgery with flu-like symptoms. You get redirected to the NHS's Pandemic self-diagnosis expert system, which asks you about 10 questions (of which the important one is "do you have more than 2 of the following symptoms: fever, headache, nausea" etc). At the end it spits out a unique reference number for your flu-buddy to go and pickup your prescription of Tamiflu from a chemists. That's it. I did it last week for my partner - she's fine now.
The thing is, this will lead to overprescribing, and also is probably likely to encourage people to self certify themselves ill when they aren't - so they can have a week off work (no sicknote required for Swine Flu, as you can't get in to see your doctor) and get their supply of Tamiflu in before stocks run out...

Re:Good data? (2, Informative)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006084)

That's the problem I've had with the explosion of reported cases of swine flu. From what I'm told the phone lines aren't even manned by anyone who works in the health care industry, and there's roughly a 100% chance that if you call in with anything remotely flu like you'll be a reported case of swine flu before you get off the phone.

Re:Good data? (2, Interesting)

CKW (409971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007180)

Have you not looked at the raw statistics?

Right now, if you have flu, you have swine flu. Only something like 1/1,000 flu cases is "some other" flu. 99% of all cases tested, test positive for swine flu.

Re:Good data? (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30010944)

Yes, and if you have a fever and a headache there's a good chance you've "got swine flu" too, except that you've actually just got a really bad hangover and a prescription for Tamiflu.

Re:Good data? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006300)

The thing is, this will lead to overprescribing, and also is probably likely to encourage people to self certify themselves ill when they aren't - so they can have a week off work (no sicknote required for Swine Flu, as you can't get in to see your doctor) and get their supply of Tamiflu in before stocks run out...

I know more than a few doctors and after the initial panic (in the USA), they mostly just stopped testing for H1N1.

Taking Tamiflu sucks almost as bad as the H1N1 flu (which I learned from one of my Doctor friends)
and both will put you out of rotation for ~10 days.

Re:Good data? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006702)

I know more than a few doctors and after the initial panic (in the USA), they mostly just stopped testing for H1N1.

You're right. CDC guidelines don't suggest testing everyone. Really just the sickest patients. The problem being that 1) it's expensive 2) the rapid tests are really pretty bad with significant false negative rates and the better tests take too long to be useful.

So you are seeing H1H1 + some percentage of seasonal viral illnesses of various types. The interesting thing to me as an ER doc is that we're seeing very similar symptoms amongst patients with presumed H1N1 and so I think the numbers will be reasonably accurate. The actual attack rates are of interest to epidemiologists and other statistic freaks, This sort of data will tell us of the general trending of the bug.

But your worry about Tamiflu is a bit overblown. For one thing, you only take the medication for five days. I've seen some complaints of GI upset (which is typical for a lot of medications) but few people feel bad enough to stop the drug.

Re:Good data? (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005680)

Even if the doctors are telling the CDC it's verified who is checking that they actually did the tests?

Yeah, the thing that caught my eye was the claim in the summary: "The medical data is normalized so that fir example reports of hypertension, HTN, and high blood pressure all mean the same thing when a researcher enters a query against the data."

"Mean the same thing", eh? To whom? Meaning is a verb: it is what knowing subjects do with data, information, raw stuff.

People mean anything they want by anything they say or hear (just get into an argument with your girlfriend if you want empirical proof...)

While data normalization can handle trivial terminological differences, it cannot deal with the reality that what one doc means by "hypertension" does not map on to what another doc means by "hypertension", so the database will be full of inconsistent and contradictory information. This is ok, so long as the people using it realize that the categories are loosely bound statistical clusters that can't be interogated... err... meaningfully... without the use of extremely high-power analytical techniques. Simply asking questions like, "Where are flu-like symptoms being reported" will give you a probability distribution with significant spacial heteroskedasity, not an answer.

Re:Good data? (2, Informative)

shadow349 (1034412) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005892)

Back in July, the CDC told the states to not to bother to test people for H1N1; they should just count people that appear to have H1N1 symptoms as a positive test result since it is a "OMG! We're all fucked! Pig are flying and they have teh flu!" situation.

Of course, the fact that this overestimates the reported occurence of H1N1 by a factor of 5 to 50 times [cbsnews.com] is of no concern to us peasants.

It's not meant to be a sampling, more of a census. (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005902)

This is purely antidotal but a colleague got sick and when to the doctor. The doctor, without testing, said he had H1N1.

This is actually a reasonably diagnosis.

From statistical sampling of the population (with strain typing) that's been done so far, the normal seasonal flu strains are not really circulating yet, while H1N1 has been observed to be spiking in frequency. I think there's some diagnosis guideline out there that your family doctor should assume any flu case is H1N1, at this time of the year.

Re:Good data? (1)

skiingyac (262641) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006098)

Right now, something like 1% of all flu in the US that is attempted to be subtyped is NOT H1N1. See http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/ So basically, if the person has the flu, it is almost definitely H1N1.

Re:Good data? (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30008020)

There's a chart. In summary:

* If you don't have a fever or body aches or chills or a headache, you have a cold.
* If you have a runny nose and are slightly tired, and sneezing or a sore throat, and a slow onset of a few days, you have the normal flu.
* If it shows up over 3-6 hours, with chills, severe aches, headache, and a fever, it's swine flu.

They're really quite different. No test is needed for most cases...

Re:Good data? (1)

aristofanes (413195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30008938)

Follow the money
The CDC states that only a PCR test can distinguish between seasonal flu and H1N1,
PCR tests cost between 100 to 300 dollars and takes about 2 days. ( the costs in India were said to be about 200 dollars.
The PCR machines are expensive; from 50,000 to 100,000 dollars.
They require trained staff
They can only do so many tests ia a day
The WHO talks about "confirmed" cases; but not about the lack of PCR machines in most of the world.

(Hearsay) a distant relative, a nurse in the USA, says that when the results of a "quick" test (that can only indicate flu or not flu,) comes back she is told to always mark it as H1N1.
The CDC stats that treatment should begin within the first 48 hours; i.e the time it takes to get the PCR result.
So the physician assumes the worst and initiates treatment appropriate to H1N1

Sturdy Examples (1)

godztempus (1081497) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005496)

While fir is a great building material, I don't think it applies in these examples

Excellent! (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005504)

The entirety of the USA has swine flu!

What, that's not what the map shows?

Re:Excellent! (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005666)

The entirety of the USA has swine flu!

Well, after all, quote [medicalnewstoday.com] :
"Swine Flu Should More Accurately Be Called North American Flu".

CC.

Near Real Time - Clutching Tissues (1)

nozzo (851371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005550)

I sneezed and a team of STS (Special Tissue Services) operatives rappelled down and entered through the window feet first to present a tissue and a squirt of antibacterial hand foam. When they clocked the pepper pot and my cheese bagel much hilarity ensued.

Almost caught up to google (1)

ehud42 (314607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005622)

So google's flu results [google.org] will be validated a few days faster. People start feeling crappy, do some self diagnosis via google, then see a doctor who then files a report when then is summarized and reported by the CDC.

Re:Almost caught up to google (1)

Miros (734652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005676)

I hope someone does some regression analysis on this and writes a paper. I would be very interested in how well the google trends data fits with the new rapid CDC data assuming that one of them is a lagged indicator of the other. How well would the data fit? What are the likely sources of error? Omitted variables? Fascinating questions.

Re:Almost caught up to google (1)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006990)

The CDC is probably just using Google Flu Trends Data and making it look as their own.

Re:Almost caught up to google (1)

ehud42 (314607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005698)

One interesting thing I have noted in the trends is how 'off the chart' the flu trends are this year - I suspect google may not be able to apply an appropriate media hype attenuator to the results this year. But this is a good thing, as google will probably aggregate the search data with media reporting data and adjust their hype-limiter so that when the next overhyped pandemic / outbreak occurs the results will be more accurate and timely than the current official sources.

Re:Almost caught up to google (1)

Miros (734652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005826)

How does Google go about adjusting for hype now? Does anyone know?

Re:Almost caught up to google (1)

Miros (734652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005860)

Actually just thinking about answering my own question; having real lagged data to the trend data could be useful in correcting for the hype no? Hype is essentially another variable in the regression analysis. I'm not sure where the data would come from for it but if you could estimate the hype factor for recent past data and had some measure of present hype you may be able to correct for some of it right?

Re:Almost caught up to google (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30010080)

"do some self diagnosis via google, "
worst advice ever.

Swine fly isn't the easiest to diagnose.

Sometime people have fever, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they vomit, sometime they don't.

Anecdote:
Before this year I didn't know anyone, or know anyone who knew anyone that dies from the seasonal flu.
I know 2 people who are dead from H1N1 and know 1 person who knew someone who dies. All healthy. 2 were reported with minor symptoms, then suddenly they got bad and died.

To be expected when you have a nasty flu moving into a non-vaccinated populas.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30005788)

Interesting to me though: Ever since the first outbreak, I've known several people who had symptoms that matched the H1N1 symptoms. Each one of them wound up seeing a doctor over the severity of the symptoms and NOT A SINGLE ONE was swabbed for culture to see if what they had WAS H1N1. Does it not seem odd that the only tracking of this epidemic/pandemic is either non-existent or only being done by doctors/medical facilities that have a certain type of records system?

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Interesting)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005956)

What I've heard from doctors and nurses around the DC area is that if you have flu-like symptoms outside of the flu season (which starts week 40), then they can be reasonably certain (99%) that it is H1N1.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007874)

What I've heard from doctors and nurses around the DC area is that if you have flu-like symptoms outside of the flu season (which starts week 40), then they can be reasonably certain (99%) that it is H1N1.

Gimme a break. EVERY cold I've ever had in my life matched the symptoms of H1N1. The symptoms we are told to look for are so vague and all-inclusive that they would fit nicely into the newspaper astrology section. --And guess what? I've had plenty of colds which hit me before "week 40".

-FL

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30067226)

What I've heard from doctors and nurses around the DC area is that if you have flu-like symptoms outside of the flu season (which starts week 40), then they can be reasonably certain (99%) that it is H1N1.

Gimme a break. EVERY cold I've ever had in my life matched the symptoms of H1N1. The symptoms we are told to look for are so vague and all-inclusive that they would fit nicely into the newspaper astrology section. --And guess what? I've had plenty of colds which hit me before "week 40".

-FL

So every cold you've had in your life included at least two and possibly more of the following; fever over 100 F, chills, severe aches, significant nausea, with possible vomiting and diarrhea? Those are the symptoms used by the CDC [flu.gov] to define H1N1. Granted even the CDC admits that they are similar to seasonal flu symptoms but could be worse in severity. However, if these are the symptoms for all your "colds" it appears you've never really had a cold in your life. Instead you must have contracted various flu strains both inside and outside of the normal flu season.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005980)

No, genetic testing of the virus is EXPENSIVE and generally not needed at this point as we are so early in the normal flu season that it is obvious on the face that the majority of cases are related to H1N1.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007822)

No, genetic testing of the virus is EXPENSIVE and generally not needed at this point as we are so early in the normal flu season that it is obvious on the face that the majority of cases are related to H1N1.

I've decided that anybody who prefaces some idiotic statement with the word, "Obviously" is more than likely an ignoramus trying to sound more informed and intelligent than they really are.

Please do some research before you open your mouth and advance the agenda of planned hysteria.

H1N1 Cases Overestimated? - CBS [cbsnews.com]

-FL

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

arcmay (253138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007762)

Please mod the AC up. I was exposed to someone with a confirmed case of H1N1 and came down with symptoms. I everywhere I've called tells me they are only testing patients at a high risk for complications, because otherwise they'd be swamped with people coming in for tests. Supposedly this is the government guideline. So how is the CDC expecting to actually track this thing if the government isn't allowing people to be tested?

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Insightful)

aethogamous (935390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30010012)

Through sentinel site tracking, among other methods The government isn't stopping you getting tested, it's just providing a guideline. From a clinical point of view unless you a really sick or at risk of complications, there is really not much to be gained by knowing whether you have H1N1 or some other influenza strain, or even if it is influenza rather than say parainfluenza, rhinovirus, adenovirus, coronavirus, human respiratory syncytial virus etc etc.

Crash it (4, Funny)

YahoKa (577942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005876)

Real time flu tracking, eh? Let's all sneeze at once and see if we can crash it.

Already built (1)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30005882)

There's already a "near realtime flu tracking system." It's called Twitter.

Re:Already built (1)

Spykk (823586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006586)

Twitter users don't have to be sick to vomit all over the internet.

OK... (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006236)

so where are the pretty graphics? Say a map of the US with color codng for hotspots?

Hype! (1)

toporok (1138049) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006284)

Reading CDC's website, it's quite interesting to see that according to them 36,000 people on average die from seasonal flu and that's during the flu season. H1N1 only caused what, roughly 500-600 deaths since begining of the year and according to them it's active the whole year. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/us_flu-related_deaths.htm [cdc.gov] Hmm, is anyone else getting flashbacks to Wag the Dog? No?

Yuor not quite correct (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30010058)

Remember the 36,000 is in a vaccinated populas.

The swine flu has only been going since April, not the beginning of the year.
It is hitting a different demographic.
More children died from August to October from swine flu then die all year from season flu.
This has happend off flu season.
We are entering flu seaon with almost no vaccinated population
It's a pandemic.

Pandemic are know for bouncing around for a few year and changing.

This is poised to be very nasty. So what are they suipposed to do? Do nothing and risk a huge flu pandemic, or tell people what precautions to take and limit it's impact?

Sadly, people like you are so myopic that when there precautions are heeded and limit the flu your the type of Jackass that goes 'we didn't need it."

As it looks right now, a lot of children will die this season.

Swine Flue? B.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30006500)

Re:Swine Flue? B.S. (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30008078)

This video is broken into 6 parts. The first looked fairly reasonable, but in the second she brought up an item which seemed kind of silly to me. Unless I am mistaken, she was suggesting that if you put two live viruses into a test tube that they will somehow mix and turn into one super-virus with the qualities of the two former. Was I hearing that correctly? --Because she went off on that tangent with great energy and I'm fairly certain that this is an entirely false proposition. Especially weird since she said she was a doctor. But then, she's also a hard-core catholic, so she's obviously got some blind spots.

Still, accidentally shipping a vaccine in such huge quantities which happens to include live samples of the Bird Flu is certainly a vast screw-up which could have killed millions of people. But I don't see how it could have morphed into a super-virus simply by Bird Flu being present in the drug. Viruses, if I understand them correctly, just don't work that way.

This video strikes me as being a little COINTELPRO; bent truths being used to muddy the issue beyond comprehension for the average person.

Though, I certainly wouldn't rule out malice these days when it comes to population control. Deliberately distributing selected quantities of Bird Flu through a wide-scale vaccination policy would have been en effective way to kick the knees out from under a population.

-FL

what happened to google? (1)

adosch (1397357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30006656)

Did Google CEO's mention quite a few months back that they were implementing data mining search technology to track viral pandemics against what people's keyword searches were for on Google? I wonder what happened of that. Maybe it'll show up on my new Google Dashboard.

Real Science (1)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007094)

I'm sure that there are lots of studies from manufacturers of hand cleaners and other potions that there products kill xx% of flue viruses. I know I'm being bombarded by directions all the way from my HR department to the CDC on how to prevent getting swine flu. While I'm sure that some of those narrow studies are correct that lots of alcohol will kill the virus, does any of this really make any difference with preventing transmission of the flu. There are lots of assumptions built into suggestions that people cough into their elbow, wash their hands, etc will prevent the transmission of the flu. Are there any real world population studies to see if this makes any difference? I know this is almost like asking /. if they are sure that the world is not flat, but some times it worth checking.

Re:Real Science (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30009950)

"does any of this really make any difference with preventing transmission of the flu.

Yes. As does washing with soap and water preferably in warm water.

". There are lots of assumptions "
no there aren't.

". Are there any real world population studies to see if this makes any difference?"
many. We know they coughins is one of the best ways to transmit colds a flues. We know that touching somene is a great way to spread colds and flu. We know very few people shake elbows.

We also know the N95 masks do almost nothing to prevent you from getting the flu, and help a tiny bit in preventing someone from spreading it.
There are pretty much designed to keep surgeon from drooling into open wounds.

Look it up on PubMed.

So when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30007852)

...will there be a Google maps mashup with this data??

Heard behind the CDC building: (1)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 4 years ago | (#30011538)

"But I don't want to get on the cart"
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