SPOKANE, Wash. - The flu has killed six people in Washington State so far this season. While in other parts of the country, public health officials are declaring public health emergencies as dozens of flu-related deaths are reported weeks before the flu season usually peaks.
In addition to getting a vaccine and frequent hand washing to avoid becoming sick, there is now another tool that can help.
We download apps for just about everything these days and now the flu is no exception. There are several different apps and online tools you can download to a phone or i-Pad to track how many people in a specific area have the flu.
One of those tools is an online interactive map that can be found at www.flunearyou.org. When you visit the site, it will ask if you want to participate in the map by sharing whether or not you feel sick.
The map then tracks data from website participants, Google, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to show how many cases of the flu are in a specific zip code.
There is even an application specific to Facebook that is a little more personal. That one is called "Help I Have The Flu."
Once you pull up the application it asks you to click on several options, such as "who made me sick" or "I don't have the flu."
Next, depending how you answer, it will then ask if you want to find out who might make you sick or who made you sick.
This is where the app gets personal. It searches through all of your friends' profiles and looks for posts with words like sneezing, coughing and others related to the flu to find out who is sick. It even searches for late night check-ins and posts to see who may not be getting enough sleep.
Then once it is done searching, it will bring up a list of your Facebook friends who are the most likely to make you sick.
However, Facebook is not the only application. There is another one from the CDC called "CDC Influenza," that tracks the latest influenza trends, provides information about vaccines and how to stay protected from the flu.