Statistical data of more than 400,000 questionnaires on flu incidence has been made available this week on www.gripenet.pt and www.griepmeting.nl.
These data were obtained between November 2006 and May 2007 by the GroteGriepMeting Project in the Netherlands and Belgium and the Gripenet Project in Portugal, a seasonal online surveillance system that monitors influenza-like illness (ILI) activity in these countries. Approximately 20.000 Dutch, 7.000 Dutch-speaking Belgian and 4.200 Portuguese citizens participated in this project. Another 1,000,000 questionnaires of past flu seasons for the Netherlands and Belgium (since 2003) are also available at www.griepmeting.nl.
The data base currently being made available is to be used by scientists and interested researchers in their respective projects, with the intent of stimulating data sharing among research groups. This data allows, for example, the simulation of epidemic and pandemic scenarios.
Starting with the next influenza season, which will be launched in October 2007, it will also be possible to perform online queries with cross-tabulation of data, resulting in automatic, real-time visualization of various variables of interest. This means that, while a seasonal epidemic is ongoing, it will be possible to not only observe how the spread of ILI activity progresses within a country and across countries, but also who is being affected most (for example men or women, children, young adults or elders, etc.), the percentage of those who are on sick-leave and even the average recovery time, among other things.
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