Google Flu Trends calls out sick, indefinitely

Google will pass along search queries related to the flu to health organizations so they can develop their own prediction models.

Flu shot
Credit: Flickr / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District

Google has shut down its website that predicted how influenza and dengue fever were spreading based on queries that people ran in the company's search engine.

Instead of running Google Flu Trends, the company will pass along the data gleaned from user searches to heath organizations that study infectious diseases so they can develop their own prediction models. Those organizations include the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Boston Children’s Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Influenza Division, Google said Thursday.

Google is also making the historical data its collected as part of the project available for download.

Academic researchers that would like access to Google's current flu data can fill out a form that asks them questions including how they'll use the information for their project and if the work is either commercial or non-commercial.

Launched in 2008, Google Flu Trends used queries from the company's search engine to form prediction models on where the flu and dengue fever were spreading. Over time, Google added CDC flu data to its models.

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