With the recent rise in popularity and scale of social media, a growing need exists for systems that can extract useful information from huge amounts of data. We address the issue of detecting influenza epidemics. First, the proposed system extracts influenza related tweets using Twitter API. Then, only tweets that mention actual influenza patients are extracted by the support vector machine (SVM) based classifier. The experiment results demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed approach (0.89 correlation to the gold standard). Especially at the outbreak and early spread (early epidemic stage), the proposed method shows high correlation (0.97 correlation), which outperforms the state-of-the-art methods. This paper describes that Twitter texts reflect the real world, and that NLP techniques can be applied to extract only tweets that contain useful information.