Virginia Tech's flu forecast app expected to launch by end of summer

Researchers working with AccuWeather to develop app

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

BLACKSBURG, Va. - New technology out of Virginia Tech will soon be able to tell you right on your phone when to expect flu outbreaks in your area.

Researchers are teaming up with AccuWeather to make the flu forecast part of the weather app.

They're using the Biocomplexity Institute's disease forecasting tool called EpiCaster, originally developed to predict the spread of Ebola in western Africa.

The flu forecast will give users information about how the flu is spreading and when areas are expected to get hit the hardest.

"A user such as you can say, 'You know, I think the flu is going to be really bad in the next two weeks. Maybe I should take some protective action,’” Biocomplexity Institute Professor Madhav Marathe said.

“Recent studies we've done have shown like about an 80 percent accuracy if we're giving ourselves just a couple weeks into the future and the general trend line if it's getting better, it's getting a little worse or it's going to stay about the same," Biocomplexity Institute Epidemiologist and Associate Professor Bryan Lewis said.

The forecast will be updated weekly using confirmed cases reported to the CDC, social media posts and google searches related to the flu.

They just finished up a six-month trial testing the app.

It should launch near the end of summer, just in time for flu season.

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