The U.K.’s Flusurvey is an online system for measuring influenza trends in the U.K. In contrast to traditional surveillance methods, Flusurvey collects data directly from the general public, rather than via hospitals or physicians. This is particularly important because many people with flu don't visit a doctor so don't feature in traditional flu surveillance. Participation is entirely voluntary, and information is collected for research purposes only.

U.K. Flusurvey launched in July 2009, in the middle of the swine flu epidemic, which was fairly hectic. It is part of a Europe-wide initiative to monitor influenza-like illness (ILI) activity. More than 5,000 people signed up in 2009. The Flusurvey has continued ever since, and is about to enter its 5th year.

The Internet has been used to monitor patterns of influenza-like-illness (ILI) in the Netherlands and Belgium since 2003, in Portugal since 2005 and Italy since 2007. From 2011 France, Sweden, Spain, Denmark and Ireland.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Alma Adler & John Edmunds (UK)
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Questionnaire
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Anyone can register to take part. When you register, you'll be asked to fill in a profile survey asking general questions about yourself and risk factors relevant to flu (for example, household size, age, and vaccination status). Each week, you'll be asked to report any flu-like symptoms you have experienced since your last visit. You can also take part on behalf of other people, for example household members. You'll be provided with the latest Flusurvey news and results, and regular updates on this season's flu epidemic.

See more projects in FreeQuestionnaireAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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