Mapping Epidemics: why actual data is necessary
Media all around the globe are currently in a frenzy because of an epidemic. Since the beginning of January 2020, numerous cases of the Novel Coronavirus have been reported outside of China. The virus was first identified in the city of Wuhan, in the Hubei Province in Western China. On February 7th, the virus has been identified as a recent disease by Chinese authorities. Therefore, it doesn’t match previously seen symptoms. Both Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization are working together to inform the public about how to avoid contamination.
The permanent media coverage regarding this virus has almost made it seem as a massive pandemic. How do we find out about the actual spread of the virus, and others epidemics around the world? The American firm Metabiota has developed its Epidemic Tracker: a cartographic tool enabling its users to see the spread of various epidemics at a global scale.
The Epidemic Tracker: following all epidemics
Metabiota, which is a pioneer firm in risk analysis when it comes to epidemics has put this tool in place. The website uses a color gradient to represent the number of recent epidemics per country. Orange dots indicate that new data is available regarding ongoing epidemics.
For each country that is on the gradient, it’s possible to have comprehensive and complete informations on the recent epidemics. This includes the following:
A filter enables users to know about the epidemics for, which data is available. However, it is only possible to select one at a time or to have an overview of the most affected countries by current epidemics.
Lastly, the tool provides ample information about pathogens profiles. This includes the duration of the incubation period, the treatment, the transmission or even the public health response.
What are the possibilities?
The Epidemic Tracker tool offers maps and data on an epidemic if cases have been reported in less than three months. Therefore, it’s not possible to see the repartition of viruses such as most of Novel Influenza A viruses or Tai Forest Ebola virus. Consequently, it appears that this tool’s aim is to provide ample information on ongoing health crisis.
The visualization of the global map shows that the United States are the most affected country by recent epidemics. This is often due to transmission via food according to the data provided by the website.
We can therefore regret that the tool doesn’t offer more precise data on each country and why it is more or less affected by an epidemic. However this seems that given that the website is constantly being updated with new sets of data, it would be challenging and time-consuming to provide ample information about each country’s situation during a short period of time.
The Epidemic Tracker offers one final option. It provides a biweekly report on the situations of epidemics and pandemics on a global scale. This document can be downloaded from the website and contains a global map, which indicates reported cases for a number of epidemics. This document tends to focus on active and long-lasting epidemics. On the 28th January, its main focuses were Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Novel Coronavirus in China. For each of these reports, an exhaustive list of the sources is at the end. Data are usually collected from government and international organizations, making them all the more reliable.
- Metabiota and Epidemic Tracker : http://metabiota.com/epidemic-tracker