Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Geography Of The Cold - Interactive Mapping Of Flu Season

Source: Flu Trends
Our kids are dropping like flies. Each day has seen three or four more names added to the long list of children absent from school due to an aggressive cold and flu season. We, too, can't seem to shake our hacking coughs, lingering headaches, and clogged sinuses.

The feisty contagion of this wintery bug has sent us looking to maps and graphics to find out if we are alone in our viral vortex and if frigid weather really does exacerbate cold symptoms.

It turns out the Center for Disease Control collects pinpoint data on the spread of cold and flu viruses and disseminates a weekly "Fluview" report to track the trends state-by-state. According to the latest map, our state of New York is indeed a phlegmy brown color, indicating "widespread" illness. also publishes a "flu trends" map, based on certain search terms that are deemed indicative of cold activity. Google's version is searchable by state, city, and year, and it can also be animated in Google Earth.

Source: Center For Disease Control

One intriguing resource we stumbled across is Sickweather. This crowdsourced hub attempts to scrape social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to glean mentions of sicknesses, doctor's visits, and red-flag disease words. The site then compiles cold and flu references to create an "online social health network" that updates itself in real time. This forecasting and mapping of regional flare-ups is terrific for teaching students about epidemiology and outbreaks, not to mention basic geography skills of symbols and visualizations.

Source: Sickweather

Finally, The Infographics Show has put together a terrific motion graphic to explain the myths and realities of the "Common Cold." This animated clip by Andrej Preston offers a great overview of how germs are spread, along with a collection of data about predictable infection rates. This video would be an excellent companion to a biology or health lesson.

1 comment:

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