New Mexico scientist creates flu forecasting software

Health News

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (KRQE) – The flu is unpredictable, at least until now. A scientist at Los Alamos National Lab is responsible for creating software that forecasts flu activity across the country and that software is showing things are not looking good for this flu season.

Ruby and her dad, Carlos Menchaca, have already gotten the flu this year.

“It was very tough, it’s just like completely drained,” said Menchaca.

They’re just two victims this year’s already widespread strain of influenza. But wouldn’t it be nice to know your chances of getting the flu?

That’s possible now, thanks to a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dave Osthus created a software known as Dante, that can actually forecast flu activity.

Dante has some bad news this season, it’s predicting flu activity will continue to increase across the state, and it expects a severe flu season nationwide.

Dante won the CDC’s seventh annual Flusight challenge last year, for having the most accurate flu forecast. Using historical data, and flu information from other states, the software knows when to make a confident forecast, and when to hedge away.

Osthus says this kind of flu forecasting technology is critical because the virus is constantly changing.

“Forecasting the flu has a lot of implications for all sorts of areas for public health. Including resource allocations so to know when hospitals should staff up and staff down,” said Osthus.

Osthus says he hopes to eventually include vaccination and strain information, to make forecasting the software even more reliable.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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