Swine Flu Takes to Google Maps

By  |  Monday, April 27, 2009 at 1:55 pm

swineflu1Whether you’re nervous about a possible pandemic or just want to stay informed, some Google Maps mashups are making it easy to track the worldwide spread of swine influenza.

My favorite, put together by Pittsburgh biomedical researcher Henry Niman, pinpoints the location of every case around the world, with colored markers denoting whether swine flu was suspected, confirmed or tested negative. Clicking on a marker brings up a short description of the case and the date of infection. When the marker has no dot in the center, it means the victim has died.

It’s a pretty easy way to get frightened.

Other maps are out there as well. The 2009 Swine Flu Outbreak Map offers a similar level of information but as a collaborative document, lending itself to more frequent updates. Meanwhile, the Guardian has posted a database of cases, encouraging readers to create their own mash-ups and visualizations.

When the world was dealing with H5N1 avian flu a few years back, Google Earth was the tool of choice, with Nature reporter Declan Butler putting together one notable example. In 2007, Google introduced My Maps, allowing for easier map creation through simple pointing and clicking. This has no doubt caused the migration of flu tracking from Google Earth to Google Maps. And it’s happening quickly, just days after swine flu hit the public spotlight.

Of course, if you’d prefer not to worry, the Internet is also full of perspective.


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13 Comments For This Post

  1. rawdawgbuffalo Says:

    i wonder what is homeland security take on this , that is if they are keeping theireyes on the ball


  2. virtual pa Says:

    Turned out to be fairly unexciting in the event though didn't it. Once the press jumped on the bandwagon we all thought it was going to be like 28 days or something

  3. Kt D Says:

    It’s certainly convenient that we can now track exactly where the swine flu has hit. This has to be pure bliss for those scientists, doctors and world health researchers who have to follow the epidemic and try to stop it in its path. For the rest of us, it is a helpful tool to know what’s going on with the flu and who it has hit the worst. Obviously, Mexico has experienced the worst of this swine ordeal so far, but that does not mean it could not easily spread over the border. Thus, it’s beyond important for us to pay attention.
    Also, since the recent World Health Organization’s official declaration of a national health emergency, stocks have been down and bankers have been (even more) stressed out. I watched an interesting video on all of this at newsy.com earlier today. The video summarizes recent panic surrounding the swine influenza situation and provides a few different perspectives:


  4. David Worthington Says:

    Senator Snowe (R) Maine had pandemic flu money cut out of the stimulus bill. Now we have some real pork to deal with. ūüėČ

  5. nutmeg123 Says:

    I came across this website:


    which seems to have some good, non hysteria inducing information on swine flu relivant to New Zealand..

  6. ~Melatonin Effects Says:

    the use of face masks and boosting your immune system by taking lots of vitamin-C is still an effective way of preventing the spread of the Swine Flu virus.

  7. arthritisremedy Says:

    i always advice my kids to wear face masks when going into crowded areas. swine flu is really scary and i dont want my kids getting infected by it.

  8. | cystic acne treatment Says:

    Lady Gaga is da bomb. Poker Face and Starstruck are so cool to listen.

  9. | Acne Treatments Asia Says:

    If you look at the pandemic of 1977, when H1N1 or Swine Flu re-emerged after a 20 year absence, there is no shift in age-related mortality pattern. The 1977 ‚Äúpandemic‚ÄĚ is, of course, not considered a true pandemic by experts today, for reasons that are not entierely consistent. It certainly was an antigenic shift and not an antigenic drift. As far as I have been able to follow the current events, the most significant factor seems to have been that most people, who were severely affected, were people with other medical conditions.

  10. Beatrice Says:

    i think that in asian countries the Swine Flu did not spread rapidly compared to those countries that are located in colder climates. we should still be very thankful that the swine flu did not cause massive infections.

  11. Teddy Blake Says:

    2 of my cousins in mexico got infected with the swine flu virus. thank God, they recovered well. it is a great news that the pandemic on swine flu is gone now.

  12. Cathy Shey Says:

    We should be thankful that the swine flu did not spread very rapidly. it is not very deadly like Ebola but swine flu can still kill you.

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    […] Swine Flu Takes to Google Maps Whether you’re nervous about a possible pandemic or just want to stay informed, some Google Maps mashups are […] […]

  4. Swine Flu + Google Earth = More To Be Alarmed About | Earth From Orbit Says:

    […] Several organizations have put together their own Swine Flu maps using Google Earth and other mapping resources.¬† Here is one really well-done and comprehensive map: Swine Flu on Google Maps.¬† It was created by Henry Niman, a Pittsburgh biomedical researcher.¬† This map shows the location of every case around the world, as well as whether swine flu was suspected, confirmed or tested negative. There are other maps as well, and for the original article and the rest of the links to Swine Flu maps, click here. […]