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Maps are a Critical Tool in the Battle Against the Zika Virus

Posted by Jason Harris on Jul 14, 2016 9:58:23 PM

Maps have long been powerful tools in disaster situations, with the ability to aggregate and visualize a plethora of diverse data into universally accessible and interactive representations. Software like ArcGIS makes churning out helpful maps in times of crisis incredibly manageable, especially with all the open source resources out there full of existing and real-time data. When a devastating circumstance strikes like what we are facing with the recent Zika virus outbreak, governments and the public alike are turning to maps to manage everything from outbreaks to Zika virus prevention plans. These various maps will give you the practical information you need about the Zika virus so you can live your life without fear of contracting it.

What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

According to various maps most of the United States is at low risk for Zika virus outbreaks. The Zika virus is transmitted mainly through one species of mosquito called Aedes aegypti, which is found only in the southern half of the United States. High risk areas are places like Florida and the entire Gulf Coast and anywhere that dengue outbreaks occur. The Southeast, Mid-Atlantic all the way up to New York City are low risk areas, while the northern New England, midwestern and Northwestern states are at no risk. While you won't find the Zika-carrying mosquitos in these states, traveling people could still contract the disease elsewhere and bring it home. Since the Zika virus can be transmitted sexually, people visiting high risk areas should get tested.

Symptoms for low risk people - anybody who isn’t pregnant - are similar to that of the flu. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant the best things to do for prevention are to wear long lasting bugspray, long pants and sleeves, and if possible refrain from traveling to high risk areas. The side effects of the Zika virus on a fetus at any stage in development are devastating so take the utmost precaution.  

2016 Zika Outbreak Map

This website, created specifically to aggregate all the latest geographic data on the virus around the world, is a great resource to keep track of whether there have been cases in your area. You can drag to coordinates anywhere in the world and get a real-time idea of where the disease is spreading, and even links to the latest new coverage of the Zika virus in the area. This is helpful because in some cases, especially in the northern states, the media will clarify that the disease was most likely contracted in travel, not because the infected mosquitos are inhabiting the area.

The Zika virus should not be taken lightly, no matter where you are in the world. The effects to the next generation are potentially debilitating. With the help of maps, however, you can stay informed so that you are not living in fear of contracting disease where no or very little risk exists. After gathering the basic facts of the Zika virus itself, find a map that suits you visually and be up to date on the latest information for your area and, at least for now, don’t leave home without the bugspray.

Topics: arcGIS, CDC, Disaster, disaster response, disease maps, zika virus

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