Health and Science News for Parents

Wow – what a map! Disease outbreaks across the world…

written by Tara Haelle

I’m going to try to return to doing a post every Friday in which I either round up a few of the best health/medical/parenting-related stories of the past week or in which I post something about a particular piece that really caught my eye.

This week I’m posting about an incredible interactive map that allows users to explore all the outbreaks of measles, mumps, rubella, polio, whooping cough and other vaccine-preventable diseases that have occurred across the world from 2007 to 2013. Below is a screenshot, for example, of all the outbreaks in the US in 2013.

screenshot of interactive infectious disease outbreak map

In this screenshot, the dominant outbreaks seen in the U.S. in 2013 were measles (red) and pertussis, or whooping cough (green).

The map’s data is being tracked by the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations and was made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which, as most know, has been very active in worldwide immunization efforts and other public health initiatives. A great story in Business Insider goes into more depth about the map and what its reporters found when they spent some time exploring it.

You can put on your amateur epidemiologist hat and explore the map yourself. You can even download data to crunch numbers yourself if you’re a data junkie. Happy exploring!

8 Responses to “Wow – what a map! Disease outbreaks across the world…”

  1. Dena

    I would like to see some maps to compare it to – possibly one form before immunization, and one form the era when nearly all were vaccinated. Just to see hwo it compares with today.

    • Tara Haelle

      This particular map is specifically tracking outbreaks as they occur, so it only has data back to when it began, in 2008. I’m not sure if there are currently resources that provide maps that retrospectively tracked outbreaks across the world. If there was no one collecting the data in real time across the world, it would take a long time to gather all the information, and it may not be collectable in many areas outside the US, such as in the developing world. I would think Doctors Without Borders might have a pretty thorough database, and I would think WHO has some surveillance mechanisms, but I’m not familiar with their resources. I suspect the reason this project was initiated was that nothing similar to it existed yet.

  2. Babs

    So Mexico seems awfully empty… are there no adequate centralized records available?

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