Phone app tracks flu cases

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — There’s an app that can let you know exactly where the flu is.

It’s called “Flu Near You,” and it tracks information submitted by everyone using it.

With just a tap of your finger, you help the app gather information about where the flu is.

You start out by reporting your symptoms.

“It is going to present with a cough, most of the time. You can certainly get a whole lot of other things though: severe body aches, like you’ve just been hit by a truck, you’ll have the fevers, or most of the time have the fevers. You can have some nausea and vomiting,” said Memorial Urgent Care Dr. Ian Tullberg.

It puts all that info into a dot on a map.

“If you start seeing a whole lot of people, your neighbors, start popping up with it, not a bad idea if you go to the grocery store, have a mask on,” said Tullberg.

It can pretty useful beyond where you live.

“Say you’re traveling somewhere else you can look to see who’s reporting that they have the flu symptoms, but again, it kind of depends on who’s putting things in,” said Tullberg.

Some people were skeptical of the app.

“Be walking through your office building and the guy forgot to input it or something and you think you’re in a safe zone and you’re really not,” said Claes Hultgren.

The accuracy of the info is important.

“If it’s someone who just think they have the flu, and we hear all throughout the summer, someone comes in, ‘well, I had the flu two weeks ago.’ No, they really didn’t. It wasn’t the flu. They may have been sick two weeks ago, but it wasn’t the flu, so it really depends on the input that they’re getting from folks out in the community, so it could be very beneficial and it could, unfortunately, be giving a lot of bad information,” said Tullberg.

Even if the info is accurate, “just having the information isn’t good enough. You actually have to use the information. Again, cover yourself with masks or make sure you’re not going to be traveling to somewhere elsewhere,” said Tullberg.

Only two people have been hospitalized with the flu this season in El Paso County.

Doctors said it’s still early, but the lack of flu cases is because of the success of the vaccine,. It’s 60 to 65 percent effective for people who got it.

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