Monday, October 29, 2012

Medical Geography

2012 Outbreaks of hantavirus in USA.
Medical Geography

Several decades ago, when I worked as budget officer and research assistant in the University of Toronto Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (now part of the U of T Dalla Lana School of Public Health),  the term Medical Geography circulated in scientific discussion, but not the general press.  Medical cartography --  mapping disease  -- dates back at least a couple of centuries.  Modern analysis of the relationship of geography to climate change and the distribution of disease is now a sub-specialty of geography.

Quarantine area for ebola infected patients. 
Medical Geography goes beyond a look at annual flu epidemics that typically originate in South East Asia or the endemic diseases of Africa.  The discipline of Medical Geography includes study of climate, weather, seismic events and other disasters, forced and voluntary migration as it relates to the trajectory and movement of disease.  

Disease tracking and analysis in recent decades - for the outbreaks of  Hantavirus, Ebola, West Nile virus, Avian Flu and SARS, among others -- reveals that climate change does impact how diseases move because of changing habitat patterns for the carriers of these potentially deadly pathogens. Mass migration and refugee movements and tourism also expand the range of human vectors. 

Deer mouse - carrier of Hantavirus.

Can indigenous Malaria really be returning to Italy?  Tropical zone insects are moving to Italy ... a bad air indeed.

No comments: