I’ve just finished Ghost Map, a book by Steven Johnson. It tells the fascinating story of John Snow, a doctor who mapped the 1854 cholera outbreak in London, and used his results to identify the Broad Street pump as the source of the disease. Those maps can be found here, and a short video interview with Johnson about his book.
A modern equivalent can be found in the use of Google Maps to chart illness on the Who is Sick website. (Hat tip to BoingBoing.) You can see the same idea implemented at Pandemic Watch, although it has no content.
This idea might be familiar to those who read this Nature article, which uses Google Earth to chart the avian flu. As the article is locked behind a paywall, here’s a link to a description of the project.
According to a EurekAlert press release today, a more recent venture maps the H5N1 virus with more detail.
The researchers used the novel technology to chart the spread of H5N1 through Asia, Indonesia, the Middle East and Europe by various hosts, including its transport by specific orders of birds and mammals… They also used the supermap to track key genetic traits prevalent in some avian flu genomes that appear to confer the ability of H5N1 to more readily infect mammals, including humans, he said.
The title of the paper is not mentioned, and the journal is behind a paywall, so I offer instead a link to a webcast about the results. Particularly impressive is the use of data from National Institutes of Health within the map.
Update: Effect Measure now posts on this.