Sick time

google flu ny 2009-02

It looks like we're in the thick of this year's flu season. (Google Flu Trends)

We've noticed a lot of sniffling going on around us recently. And it seems like every third of fourth tweet we've read on Twitter from people around the Capital Region includes some reference to sickness.

Coincidence or has "the sick" really taken over?

The first place we checked was the New York State Department of Health. It tracks reports of "influenza-like illness" each season (it passes this data along the CDC). NYSDOH's latest report (week ending Feb 14) indicates that influenza activity is "widespread" in New York State and has been for the last few weeks.

nys flu 2009-02

graph: NYS DOH

OK, but that declaration is based on official reports. What are the teeming (sickly) masses reporting? Let's consult The Google.

Google's been tracking search terms related to flu activity at the aptly-named Google Flu Trends. It's currently reporting that influenza-related search volume is pretty much at its peak right now in New York State (graph at the top of this post).

Mark another one down for "the sick." But what about here in the Capital Region specifically?

Google Trends lets us dig into that a little bit.

+ Search volume for "flu" has been trending up in New York State during 2009. And the number one city for that activity? Albany.

+ "Sick" has been holding steady (Albany ranks #3 for on that list).

+ And over the last 30 days, Albany holds the #2 spot in New York State for "pharmacy" searches, right behind Buffalo.

The Bottom Line

There's pretty good evidence that something's going around. Wash your hands. Get some sleep. And, um, no, we really don't need to shake hands.


I've already had the "headcold of doom" twice so far this winter (actually, probably separate colds) and the 36-hr-violently-puking-bug, so I'll be perfectly happy if I don't come down with anything else for a while.

Replace your toothbrush when you start feeling better, too! I was sick for six weeks with the thing that was going around, and it ended up progressing into something nastier. When I felt well enough to drag myself to the store, I bought a new toothbrush. I was feeling substantially better within days.

Currently infected with Teh Funk (aka bronchitis). Not flu, but sucks nonetheless.

Tired of this foolishness! What was the point of that flu shot that I took? I've been sick twice since. I'm calling shenanigans.

My husband and I are currently both hacking, sniffling and sneezing. Our only respite: Vick's vapo-rub and fireside spice tea from the Good Leaf. Sudafed sucks now that they've taken the meth out.

I hesitate to brag that all the members of my family are currently ick-free.

Wednesday, three different people coughed at me. One getting off the bus, one walking by in the ESP, and one on Washington. Cover your mouths!!! UGH!!!

Say what you will, but I'm looking forward to catching this year's flu. It'll help me lose those last stubborn 5 lbs., plus I'll get waited on hand and foot while I convalesce. It'll be like taking a spa vacation without ever leaving my bathroom!

Two things -- people, get some sleep!!! At least 7 hours a night keeps me healthy. And secondly, you can still get the "good" Sudafed, with the pseudoephedrine that works, from behind the counter at CVS -- it's a little hassle getting the card from the cold med aisle, showing your ID and stuff, but get the big box and you're set for a long time.
Wait, a third thing -- wash your hands compulsively and keep them away from your face.

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