Friday, February 22, 2008

Cool Interactive Health Map and Mapping Disease Hotspots

Health Map: Global disease alert map is really cool! It can be used like Google Map, and you can choose the map, satellite or hybrid view. To get to a part of the world, use one of the links at the top of the map to zoom in by content and/or region.

There are four separate menus that provide options for customization.

Below the map, you’ll see a slider that lets you display alerts by date range. You’ll also see a bar labeled “Heat Index,” that includes the spectrum from yellow to red.

* Marker color represents a composite score based on the recency of alerts, the number of disease outbreaks, and the number of sources providing information at a particular location. Our algorithm applies an exponential weighting, yielding increased heat (redness) for more recent outbreak news.

* The source of the alert is represented by an icon next to the alert headline.

* The square-shaped marker icon indicates a country-level marker, while state, province and local markers are round . We currently have administrative divisions and some major cities for USA, UK, Canada, China, India, Australia, Mexico and Russia, with more coming soon.

Use check boxes to select news feeds and different diseases. The third menu provides links that allow you to display alerts by country. The menu at the bottom offers links to the full text of the most recent alerts, displayed in a separate, smaller window.

HealthMap brings together disparate data sources to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health. This freely available Web site integrates outbreak data of varying reliability, ranging from news sources (such as Google News) to curated personal accounts (such as ProMED) to validated official alerts (such as World Health Organization). Through an automated text processing system, the data is aggregated by disease and displayed by location for user-friendly access to the original alert. HealthMap provides a jumping-off point for real-time information on emerging infectious diseases and has particular interest for public health officials and international travelers.
Below is a world map highlighting hot spots for diseases passed from animals to humans.

Researchers say that areas in which humans and animals come in very close contact are a key grounds for emerging diseases. Above,
Outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola, SARS, HIV and avian influenza are on the rise around the world, researchers report in the journal Nature.

The team found that the developing world was a key ground for emerging diseases, especially in areas in which humans and animals are in very close contact.

"These maps show that the key threat to public health is where human population growth and wildlife diversity clash," says Peter Daszak, one of the authors of the report.


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