Saturday, May 02, 2009

Maps of the Swine Flu Outbreak - Updated

Using maps to track the spread of diseases has a long history and in the past has often helped to contain or stop their spread.

Perhaps the most famous disease map is the spot map created by John Snow in 1854. Snow created his map to plot the location of cases of cholera in Soho, London. The map helped to prove that the Soho outbreak of the disease was caused by water that came from one pump in Broad Street. The dominant theory at the time was that cholera was caused by "bad air", so John Snow's map helped to prove the true cause of the disease.

None of the maps below are likely to help us overcome Swine Flu and most of the maps are far less accurate than the map created by John Snow. However these maps do give us a reasonable overall impression of how the outbreak is spreading.

H1N1 Swine Flu My Map
This Google My Map seems to have been the first map to have been created to track the Swine Flu outbreak. The map was created by Dr. Henry Niman a biomedical researcher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The map, which has generated nearly 400,000 views so far, is embedded below.

View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map

The FluTracker Map uses data from Dr Niman's H1N1 Swine Flu My Map. The data is compiled from official sources, news reports and user-contributions.

Mapa de Influenza

This Google Map shows the spread of Swine Flu in Mexico. The map is a collaborative, social sharing attempt to map the epidemic, which requires user input.

If anyone knows of an outbreak of the flu they can add the information to the map by clicking on the location and entering the details.

Wikiprotest Swine Flu Maps

Wikiprotest have embedded the H1N1 map above in their blog and have also found another Google My Map of the H1N1 Swine Flu Outbreak. This My Map is marked as 'open collaboration', which means that anyone can add to the map if they know of Swine Flu cases not yet on the map.

This map uses black markers to indicate confirmed deaths and red markers to indicate confirmed infections. Question markers on top of the markers indicate that it is a 'suspected' death or infection. This map seems to show that the outbreak may have already reached Europe.


It is possible to follow the latest worldwide news about the swine flu outbreak on the excellent HealthMap. To view swine flu news make sure that you uncheck everything except for influenza in the 'Diseases, last 30 days' column.

HealthMap aggregates news feeds from the WHO, Google News, ProMED, and many other sources to provide the latest information from all around the world.

Swine Flu Tweets

If you want to track the reactions of the Twittersphere to the Swine Flu outbreak this Google Map is tracking the latest tweets that mention 'swine flu'. The map animates through the latest tweets as they are made.

It is possible to select which part of the USA (or Europe) you wish to see tweets from by selecting from the buttons on the left of the map.

Geocommons Maker! Maps

FortiusOne's GeoCommons have produced three new Google Maps to show areas around the world that have been affected by the current outbreak of H1N1 Swine Flu and areas that might be prone to the outbreak.

The first map (pictured above) has a really useful interactive timeline that shows the spread of reported cases throughout the world. Press play on the timeline and the map will animate. It is also possible to drag the timeline to view data for any given day.

Swine Flu Cases and Measures by Country

The second Google Map shows what different countries are doing to avoid the spread of the outbreak in their country. The map also shows the number of swine flu cases that each country has encountered so far.

Air Passengers between the US and Mexico

The third map from Geocommons shows the number of air passengers between the US and Mexico. The number of passengers is shown on the map by the size of the map marker. It is possible to click on the markers to get more detailed information.

Up2Maps Swine Flu Map

This is the first heat map of the outbreak that I have seen. The colour on the map represents the percentage of the world's possible cases of Swine Flu that each country has.

A heat map gives a very good quick overall impression of which countries are being affected by the outbreak and by how much.

Up2Nets have also produced another heat map of the outbreak called H1N1 Swine Flu Infected and Possible Infected

OpenFlu Map

OpenFlu have produced a simple Google Map that show the current cases of Swine Flu around the world. OpenFlu are also presenting the data in table form, so users have two ways to visualise the scale of the outbreak.

The OpenFlu data is being collated from The Guardian and a number of other sources.

Washington Post Distribution of Cases Map

The Washington Post has used the Google Maps Flash API to produce this map that is tracking the distribution of Swine Flu (H1N1) cases around the world. The map shows confirmed cases in red and suspected cases in black.

To learn more about cases at each location click on the map markers. The map uses marker clustering, therefore more individual cases will appear as you zoom in on a location. The Washington Post map also includes a number of buttons which will zoom the map to different countries around the world.

Google Flu Trends

Google have now released a special Google Flu Trends page for Mexico. The page uses Google search activity in Mexico to help track human swine flu levels. Unlike the Google Flu Trends for U.S., this data is not validated against confirmed cases of flu but after conferring with US and Mexican health officials, Google decided to share these results "to provide additional information on the evolving epidemic."

The page includes an interactive Flash heat map of the Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico. Pointing at any region with your mouse will bring up a legend informing you of the current level of the outbreak in that area.

Via: Official Google Blog: Experimental Flu Trends for Mexico

Ushahidi Swine Flu Map

Google Maps mashups of the Swine Flu Outbreak are still being produced thick and fast. The latest comes from crisis information crowdsourcing website Ushahidi and is actually one of the best maps of the outbreak so far.

This Google Map of the outbreak allows you to filter the results shown on the map by Confirmed Cases, Suspected Cases, Confirmed Death, Suspected Death and Negative. Beneath the map is a graph showing the rise (and hopefully eventually the fall) in cases of Swine Flu. The user can adjust the dates to view a graph for any period and the data on the map will change to reflect the date range chosen as well.

Like all of Ushahidi's Google Map mashups users can submit information to the map by filling in a short form or by sending an SMS message.


Click2Map, the map creation website, have also produced a Google Map of the outbreak. The Click2Map Google Map lets the user filter the results shown on the map by Confirmed cases, Suspected cases, Deaths and Negative.

The map makes good use of numbered marker clustering which allows the user to get a quick overview of the extent of the outbreak in different states and countries. The Click2Map map also has a search facility so that the user can find a location on the map that they are interested in viewing results for.

Geotagged Swine Flu Videos

Another interesting way to keep up-to-date on the latest news about the outbreak is via this Google Map of geotagged YouTube videos about Swine Flu.

The map includes a number of videos about the outbreak, mainly from news channels. The map includes a handy forward and back button which makes it easy to skip forward to the next video.

H1N1 Swine Flu Timeline

Using the Google Earth plugin I've created a timeline of the H1N1 Swine Flu outbreak. The data comes from the H1N1 Swine Flu My Map.

Due to the inaccuracy of the data this map should be seen purely as an experiment. For example, the timestamps on the data seems to suggest that the outbreak spread from the USA to Mexico rather than the other way around. However the timeline does give a rough idea of how the outbreak seems to be spreading.

BBC Map of the Outbreak

The BBC map does not use the Google Maps API but I'll include it here because it is likely to be one of the most accurate maps in this list and because it has a good timeline of the spread of the disease.

Swine Flu Map Animation - this map uses a number of maps created with the Google Chart API to create an animated timeline of the outbreak.

Swine Flu Cases in Western Europe - this My Map is tracking the outbreak exclusively in Western Europe.

Swine Flu Heat Map - This site uses the Google Visualisation API to produce a heat map of the outbreak. The site also contains a time graph so you can view the increase (and hopefully the decrease) in cases over time.

Chicago Schools And Business Closures - This Google My Map shows school and business closures in the Chicago area and surrounding counties related to the recent
H1N1 Swine Flu Outbreak.

RSOE -Pandemic Monitoring System - Full screen Google Map of the Swine Flu outbreak with a rolling ticker of the latest news on the outbreak in each country.

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