Potential of Social
Media to determine
hay fever seasons and
drug efficacy
Dr Ed de Quincey, University of Greenwich
Dr Thom...
Dr Ed de Quincey @eddequincey
Principal Lecturer, School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
Head of the Web 2.0/Social...
Hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis
is a common allergic condition
(Emberlin, 2010), defined as an
Immunoglobulin E (I...
The current UK hay
fever prevalence is
between 20-25% of
the population,
projected to rise to

39% by 2030
(Emberlin, 2010...
Surges in incidence of allergic rhinitis in
spring and summer are commonly
known as the hay fever season, with
the main po...
The Meteorological
Office (Met Office)
provide weekly pollen
forecasts and the

Royal College of
General
Practitioners (RC...
For researchers and sufferers of hay
fever, there is currently no method
for identifying real-time,
geolocated hay fever i...
2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
500 million registered accounts
340 million tweets per day
2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
A promising approach in the related field
of Epidemiological Intelligence to detect
seasonal illnesses is the use of Socia...
2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
“1486 following, 283 followers and 134
updates and 36 direct messages to
hayfever sufferers on Twitter”
http://www.figarod...
2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013

http://www.socialslurp.co.uk/benadryl-pollen-hotspot-goes-tits-up/
“hayfever” and “hay fever”

2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
Since 20th June 2012 and 2nd April 2013

130,233 tweets
88,747 distinct users
76% only posted one tweet
83.5% “Hayfever”
1...
Distribution of geolocated tweets posted June 2012 to
April 2013 containing the terms “hayfever” or “hay fever”.

2nd GRF ...
Distribution similar to Pollen Calendars produced by the National Pollen
and Aerobiology Research Unit, with peaks in June...
From all tweets collected 23%
contained hashtags

#hayfever (6,991)
#itchyeyes (326)
#f@ckoff (293)
#dying (266)
#fml (264)...
Other hashtags relating to symptoms

#sneeze;
#cantstopsneezing;
#sneezing; #achoo;
#soreeyes; #puffyeyes;
#sneezy; #sniff a...
Self-reporting phrases

“I have hayfever” (1,006)
“I have hay fever” (332)
“my hayfever” (6,707)
“my hay fever” (1,124)
2n...
5,254 tweets related to
medication were found
(containing terms such as “medicine”; “tablets”;
“meds”; “medication”; “pill...
Only 3,924

tweets (3%) had
a precise longitude and
latitude.
All tweets however
contained an

approximate
location
e.g. 1...
2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013

Map Source Professor Jean Emberlin, PollenUK
“Thank you for sight of your map. It matches what I would
expect to see, broadly fewer instances of pollen being
registere...
The higher

level of granularity that twitter enables for temporal analysis
means that daily peaks of hay fever incidence ...
For comparison the

Met Office
offered to provide
Daily stats from
March 2011 up until
May 2013 for 18
UK locations at a
c...
Potential of Social Media to determine hay fever seasons and drug efficacy
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Potential of Social Media to determine hay fever seasons and drug efficacy

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GRF 2nd One Health Summit 2013: Presentation by Ed De Quincey, University of Greenwich

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Potential of Social Media to determine hay fever seasons and drug efficacy

  1. 1. Potential of Social Media to determine hay fever seasons and drug efficacy Dr Ed de Quincey, University of Greenwich Dr Thomas Pantin, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013 Photo by Maja Dumat
  2. 2. Dr Ed de Quincey @eddequincey Principal Lecturer, School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences Head of the Web 2.0/Social Web for Learning Research Group, eCentre 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013 http://www2.gre.ac.uk/research/centres/ecentre/research-groups/web-2.0
  3. 3. Hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis is a common allergic condition (Emberlin, 2010), defined as an Immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated inflammatory response of the nasal lining following exposure to an allergen (Bousquet et al., 2008). 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013 Photo by Mislav Marohnić
  4. 4. The current UK hay fever prevalence is between 20-25% of the population, projected to rise to 39% by 2030 (Emberlin, 2010). Photo from “Hayfever hotspots: As pollen counts rise, our unique British map tells you where to avoid” 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1015294/Hayfever-hotspots-Aspollen-counts-rise-unique-British-map-reveals-avoid.html
  5. 5. Surges in incidence of allergic rhinitis in spring and summer are commonly known as the hay fever season, with the main pollens in the UK being birch pollen, March to mid May, and grass pollen, late May to August (Emberlin, 2010). 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  6. 6. The Meteorological Office (Met Office) provide weekly pollen forecasts and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) produce weekly service reports. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/forecast/ 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  7. 7. For researchers and sufferers of hay fever, there is currently no method for identifying real-time, geolocated hay fever incidence. 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013 Photo by “A Guy Taking Pictures”
  8. 8. 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  9. 9. 500 million registered accounts 340 million tweets per day 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  10. 10. A promising approach in the related field of Epidemiological Intelligence to detect seasonal illnesses is the use of Social Media (de Quincey & Kostkova, 2010). By collecting incidences of users self reporting illnesses on twitter, it has been shown that outbreaks can be predicted 1-2 weeks before RCGP data indicates (Szomszor et al, 2012). 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  11. 11. 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  12. 12. “1486 following, 283 followers and 134 updates and 36 direct messages to hayfever sufferers on Twitter” http://www.figarodigital.co.uk/case-study/Kleenex.aspx 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  13. 13. 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013 http://www.socialslurp.co.uk/benadryl-pollen-hotspot-goes-tits-up/
  14. 14. “hayfever” and “hay fever” 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  15. 15. Since 20th June 2012 and 2nd April 2013 130,233 tweets 88,747 distinct users 76% only posted one tweet 83.5% “Hayfever” 16.5% “Hay fever” 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  16. 16. Distribution of geolocated tweets posted June 2012 to April 2013 containing the terms “hayfever” or “hay fever”. 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  17. 17. Distribution similar to Pollen Calendars produced by the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, with peaks in June/July, reductions through August/September, no pollen from October to January and then a rise in March 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  18. 18. From all tweets collected 23% contained hashtags #hayfever (6,991) #itchyeyes (326) #f@ckoff (293) #dying (266) #fml (264) 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  19. 19. Other hashtags relating to symptoms #sneeze; #cantstopsneezing; #sneezing; #achoo; #soreeyes; #puffyeyes; #sneezy; #sniff and #sniffles 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  20. 20. Self-reporting phrases “I have hayfever” (1,006) “I have hay fever” (332) “my hayfever” (6,707) “my hay fever” (1,124) 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  21. 21. 5,254 tweets related to medication were found (containing terms such as “medicine”; “tablets”; “meds”; “medication”; “pill’; “spray” and “drugs”). 437 tweets related to drug efficacy (“tablets don’t work” and “the pills don’t work”) 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013 Photo by e-Magine Art
  22. 22. Only 3,924 tweets (3%) had a precise longitude and latitude. All tweets however contained an approximate location e.g. 16,365 were posted from a profile that had a location set as “London”. 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  23. 23. 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013 Map Source Professor Jean Emberlin, PollenUK
  24. 24. “Thank you for sight of your map. It matches what I would expect to see, broadly fewer instances of pollen being registered in Scotland, more in the south and southeast of 2nd GRF One Health England.” SummitPeter Burt, Biometeorologist - Dr 2013
  25. 25. The higher level of granularity that twitter enables for temporal analysis means that daily peaks of hay fever incidence can be identified in real time along with potentially pinpointing more accurate start and end dates of the seasons within different parts of the UK. 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013
  26. 26. For comparison the Met Office offered to provide Daily stats from March 2011 up until May 2013 for 18 UK locations at a cost of £12,100 + Vat 2nd GRF One Health Summit 2013

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