Those Canadian researchers who found that searches for “listeriosis” spiked before last summer’s outbreak caused by dirty ready-to-eat meat cutting machines at Maple Leaf’s Toronto plant was announced publicly did not at all surprise us.

Canadians were getting sick prior to the public announcement, and their doctors were giving them suspected causes of their illnesses. In the wired world, it’s natural to seek more information through a web search once you get home from the doctor.

This is one of more than a dozen of the “bug” blogs sponsored by the law firm of Marler Clark. Like most of the “bug” sites, this blog is paired with an educational site going by the address   Whenever an outbreak is about to be announced, we see traffic spikes.

Now this phenomenon is verified by researchers. Agweek reports:

Online searches for the term “listeriosis” spiked several weeks before last summer’s outbreak of the illness was revealed to the public, an article reviewing Internet-based disease surveillance systems shows.

The Google searches for listeriosis, which is the illness caused by Listeria bacteria, began to climb in mid-July and peaked in the first week of August. When the outbreak came to light in the third week of August, online searches for the more commonly used term “Listeria” soared, while searches for listeriosis continued to decline.

The authors of the article, which was published electronically March 12 by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, say they don’t know who was doing the searching before the outbreak was publicly acknowledged. Nor do they know how many more searches than usual would have been needed to create the spike they noted.

More here from Agweek.