Miners would take canaries into the mines to test for the presence of methane gas. If the canary died, the miners had to evacuate immediately! It was a simple system of identifying a danger. Unrelated in any way, except for using the simplicity of a system, modern day doctors are using pre-school children to predict the possibility of a flu outbreak in the community. Diseases like the flu often hit our most vulnerable first, small children and seniors because they lack a robust immune system.

So, it makes sense to identify illnesses in neighborhood day care centers and log the daily results online so public health officials can compare them and determine whether or not a sudden rise in sickness is on its way. According to a study, Dr. Andrew N. Hashikawa, at the University of Michican, said when pre-school children come home with the flu, they tend to pass it on throughout the family.

But by linking all the pre-schools and day care centers online to report a daily health log of who's sick, those little rascals just might turn out to be accurate predictors of disease outbreaks. Soon, this study will be presented to the American Academy of Pediatrics national conference.

[Time]