Hey, Bradenton-Sarasota, we're headed for sick season.
At least that's what Sickweather, an app that maps our maladies, is telling us. So load up on Vitamin C and get those precious eight hours of Z's.
Allergies, fever, and the common cold are going around in the Bradenton-Sarasota area, according to the app, with near peak flu activity around the country as children return to school and parents settle down for the first full work week of the year. The most reports are coming from the southern portions of the region.
Even with this warning, Florida is still doing better than most. Sickweather has seen higher than typical flu reports in the states of Washington, North Dakota, Alaska, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Ohio, California, Massachusetts and Oklahoma.
Sickweather, which launched in November 2011, uses a "heat map" to show where in the U.S. social media users are reporting cases of fever, allergies and colds. It gets this information by scanning social networks, including Twitter and Facebook.
CEO Graham Dodge has called it “a Doppler radar for sickness.” The company collects two million reports of illness each month while also allowing users to search 23 different symptoms and illnesses, including asthma, chicken pox, cough, croup, ear infection, fifth disease, headache, nasal congestion, norovirus, pink eye, pneumonia, respiratory syncytial virus, sinus infection, soar throat and whooping cough.
The process uses keywords in public Facebook and Twitter posts and geotags them to pin them to a map. If you're really into your symptoms, you can also anonymously report your illness directly to Sickweather.
Worried about psychosomatic flakes skewing the data? Not a chance. The company says the program is sophisticated enough to differentiate between real symptoms and idioms.