Avoid the doctor: Diagnose swine flu on the Web

In an effort to cut down on the number of people running to their doctor or emergency room, panicked that they have the swine flu, Microsoft Corp. and Emory University have come up with an interactive Web site to help with a diagnosis.

Released Wednesday, the site doesn't require you to cough into your computer, but taking your temperature before going online will help answer some of the questions to determine how sick you are and if you should seek immediate medical attention.
You can answer the questions for yourself or someone else, such as your child, and within seconds can find out what your next step should be to determine if you have the 2009 H1N1 virus. The online diagnosis can be done by anyone 12 and older.

Doctors are probably wary of patients diagnosing themselves on the Internet, but this site asks enough questions to determine if you should go to your doctor for medical attention or if you should simply stay home and rest and drink plenty of fluids.

I took the test, even though I don't have any flu symptoms, and one of the main determiners seemed to be if a high fever was present for 24 hours or longer.

The site seems like a great way to prevent health-care systems from being overloaded with panicked patients, who should be able to recover at home and not need to see a doctor if they have mild symptoms.

High risk patients -- such as people who have diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease, or pregnant women -- should seek medical treatment earlier if they have flu symptoms.

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