GIS Health News Weekly: Gut Bacteria, Poverty, ALS

Geography and Gut Bacteria

People living in cold, northern latitudes have bacteria in their guts that may predispose them to obesity, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Arizona, Tucson. The researchers looked at data from more than 1,000 people from around the world. On the map at right, the blue represents the proportion of obesity-related bacteria in the gut, while red is the proportion of bacteria associated with slimness.

Mapping Underweight Children

Journalist Tim de Chant offers a map of where children are underweight (interactive, CartoDB). Data: "The data covers 1990-2002 and isn’t available for all regions (those that are unavailable appear blue on the map). The raw data was compiled by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network." Quartz did some analysis.

Regional Health Crisis: Learn Health GIS

American Sentinel University used what it calls "a recent regional health crisis" in Lake Champlain, the big lake with Vermont and New York on either side, to highlight its GIS degree programs. The press release explains how GIS technology was used to tracking harmful contaminations. I'd not even heard of the crisis which dates to last fall. Also noteworthy, scientists doen't seem to know why there is connection between the blue-green algea found in the lake and cases of Lou Gehrig's disease. While I love that the univeristy writes such interesting PRs, I do wish the releases would include some references to authoritative sources. Update: After I wrote the previous sentences Directions Magazine recieved an e-mail describing the release as a "deceptive press article about Lake Champlain."

Greenpeace Point Fingers at Eskom for Pollution Related Deaths

Greenpeace has put together a study assessing the health implications of Eskom's lack of adherence to South African pollution laws. The bottom line: " 2200 people per year died prematurely as a result of exposure to particulate matter." I'm not sure how to read this statement. It either says Greenpeace used GIS in its evaluation or that Eskom should be using GIS.

[Author] Myllyvirta’s study particularly looks at the consequences of Eskom’s failure to address the health issues and financial cost using tools implementable in GIS software. 

U.S. Nursing Homes: Which are Getting Better?

A new map of the worst nursing homes in America features those that fall into the Special Focus Facility (SFF) initiative, a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) program to highlight and hopefully reform nursing homes with the worst care. The map shows the status of the current 112 SFF nursing homes in 45 states, based on February 2014 data. Despite the CMS plan to name the facilities to help turn them around, the CartoDB map does not include name or address information.

Learning about Health my Mapping Social Media Data

John Brownstein, the fellow behind HealthMap, and doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital is teaming up with Merck to look at insomnia using social media.

Brownstein and his team will take publicly available data from Twitter and Facebook, including message content, frequency, user analytics, and demographic information to determine what social media users are likely suffering from sleep deprivation. They’ll then compare that group to the larger social media population and look for risk factors for insomnia. Within the group identified as having insomnia, a smaller group will be given the standard clinical evaluation for insomnia in order to validate the social media methodology.

There's nothing explicit about location in this discussion, but i suspect if the location information is included in the data, it'l be collected and used.

study from UCLA suggests it may be possible to predict HIV and drug-use behaviors through peoples' tweets, map where those messages come from and link them to data on the disease to be used for prevention and detection. Data from 2012 suggesteda significant relationship between Tweets indicating risky behavior and counties where the highest numbers of HIV cases were reported.

Published Friday, February 28th, 2014

Written by Adena Schutzberg

© 2017 Directions Media. All Rights Reserved.