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Avoid Oklahoma! Social-media map warns of flu hotspots

Track the germy spread of influenza with a social-media map of tweets and videos complaining of symptoms and outbreaks.

Esri Health Information Map
Red states indicate high flu activity. Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

There are many ways of discovering just how bad the flu is in your area. You and all your friends and co-workers could get sick. You could hear about it on the local news. Or you could check Esri's social-media flu map tracking tweets, YouTube videos, and Flickr photos having to do with Flu Invasion 2013.

The nice part of the Esri map is you can check it from the sterile safety of your own home where you've locked yourself up in a hermetically sealed environment with weeks worth of Spam and Top Ramen to tide you over until flu season subsides.

Click on a state and you'll get a quick overview of the flu activity level. Oklahoma, for example is high. Zoom in an you can check out individual tweets and YouTube videos tagged to specific geographic areas. For example, Trent Falwell in Talequah, Okla., tweets, "Everybody is coming down with the flu." It's not exactly in-depth reporting, but it does give you an idea of where the flu conversation is running high.

Sometimes the best way to take the country's temperature is through its social media. It's good we have this technology in place and are taking it for a test run during flu season. It should come in very handy once the zombie apocalypse begins.