Maryland health officials track flu with e-mail queries
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has developed a Web-based project to ask thousands of residents whether they've been laid low by flu symptoms. The Maryland Resident Influenza Tracking Survey is designed to augment reports from the doctors, hospitals, and medical laboratories traditionally used to gather data on the geography and intensity of the flu season. The health department sends a weekly e-mail to people who sign up, asking them such questions as whether they've had a fever or a sore throat. With a more complete picture of a spreading flu epidemic, health officials say, they might be more effective with efforts to vaccinate people and teach them how to avoid catching and spreading the flu.
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