Feds digitize spread of West Nile virus
- By Dan Verton
- Jul 31, 2000
The National Atlas West Nile virus maps
The U.S. Geological Survey has teamed with the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention and federal, state and local government agencies in 19 states
to produce online, interactive maps to track the West Nile virus.
A strain of encephalitis that is spread by mosquitoes, the West Nile
virus killed seven people last year in New York, and traces of the virus
have been found in at least four other states. Massachusetts became the
latest state to report evidence of the virus when on July 21 two crows tested
positive for the disease. Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland also have
reported cases of the disease.
USGS has launched a high-tech surveillance effort to track the spread
of the virus using state-of-the-art mapping and geographic information systems.
Online maps are updated regularly and will help federal, state and local
health officials devise strategies to protect communities from the virus
and alert officials and physicians of new outbreaks.
CDC also maintains a secure World Wide Web site that provides authorities
with early access to summary data from the surveillance system to ensure
that errors are corrected before information is made available to the public.
Users must have a digital certificate to access the secure CDC Web site.
Authorities generate reports on the spread of the virus each week by
tapping a master database of information that has been approved and released
by the states. Likewise, maps are generated by USGS/National Atlas Project
staff and available on the National Atlas web site. The National Atlas is
a governmentwide project directed by USGS. The maps and corresponding graphs
and tables are made available on the National Atlas Web site every Friday evening. Additional maps are posted
Maps are arranged on the Web site according to case type. Users can
view the following maps: Human Cases, Veterinary Cases, Wild Bird Cases,
Sentinel Flock Surveillance and Mosquito Surveillance.