Monday, February 01, 2016

Mapping the Spread of Zika

At the time of writing the World Health Organization are meeting to decide whether to declare the Zika virus a "public health emergency of international concern".  You can learn more about the Zika virus on Frontline's new story map, The Spread of Zika.

The map documents the spread of the Zika virus across many parts of the world since it was first detected in a rhesus monkey in the Zika Forest on the shores of Lake Victoria, Uganda in 1947. The map is not only informative about the spread of the disease but also about how medicine's understanding of the disease has grown over the decades.

As Frontline's story map is clear to point out, only one in five people who contract the Zika virus ever suffer symptoms. Most of the one in five cases that do experience symptoms suffer symptoms which are similar to a mild case of flu. What is most worrying health authorities is the link between Zika fever and microcephaly in newborn babies of infected mothers. This link has not yet been established - but is strongly believed to exist.

HealthMap, which provides interactive maps of infectious diseases, has also released a map of the Zika virus. The Zika Virus HealthMap is not a map of confirmed cases of the Zika virus but plots Zika virus news from disparate data sources, including "online news aggregators, eyewitness reports, expert-curated discussions and validated official reports".

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