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How Researchers Are Using Google to Find Chickenpox Seasons

Updated on May 31, 2016

Since, chickenpox vaccine was invented in mid-1990s, it has become less common in U.S. This disease mostly arises in population that are not yet vaccinated.

Rash is the most common indication of chickenpox. Accompanied with other symptoms that appear first such as loss of appetite, headache and fever. New bumps keeps on appearing at different time over the entire body surface. The infection subsides after all the bumps form scab and begin to heal.

Chickenpox infection is common in unimmunized populations. The chickenpox infection mostly occurs by the age of 15 years. Mostly all children who belong to age group of 5 to 9 contract this infection. However, people of all age group can get infected with this virus. This infection is more severe in very young infants and adults.

It is said that winter and spring are the most common times of the year in which chickenpox infection is noted. This information is studied recently by the researchers with the use of unconventional methods like Google search.

According to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, experts have noted that chickenpox infection may be a seasonal illness. It is noted that the cases of chickenpox infection are more informed in the spring season.

To detect and validate the occurrence of chickenpox infection in particular season, the researchers opted an unconventional source that is Google Trends. The search engine has been used before by the researchers to evaluate and inspect rate of influenza.

Researcher wanted to detect and check if chickenpox is also a seasonal disease like common cold or flu. Google search data was used to check the number of chickenpox cases in a particular season. Search data from Google was obtained from 36 countries of about 11-year period. This data was compared with evidence from published clinical cases, upon which it was validated.

Scientist found that the chickenpox virus varicella-zoster seems to be highest in the spring worldwide. However, the places or countries where the vaccine against chickenpox virus is used showed lesser occurrence of infection.

Moreover, the result of the study are limited as the countries that underwent study belong from the temperate region and there was access to the internet. The people from this region had adequate education and knowledge to use internet for searching of information related to the disease.

The above study therefore used Google search engine successfully to estimate the occurrence of chickenpox season. However, the study is in limited range because of its dependency on internet.


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