A Temporal Tracking: The 19th Century Caribbean Cholera Timemap [UPDATED]

Update 2/13/13: The Cholera Time Map has been moved to a new URL. The links below have been updated.

Update 11/2/11: The article "Cholera in Haiti and Other Caribbean Regions, 19th Century" - authored by Deborah Jenson, Victoria Szabo, and the Duke FHI Haiti Humanities Laboratory Student Research Team - has just come out in the "Cholera in Haiti" special issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. Congratulations to the co-authors!

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Cholera Time Map

Historical epidemiology research and a virtual interface have fused in one of the Haiti Lab’s recent projects, the 19thCentury Caribbean Cholera Timemap.

The project, led by Haiti Lab co-director Deborah Jenson and affiliated faculty Victoria Szabo (also co-director of the GreaterThanGames Lab), traces the development of the cholera outbreak in Haiti from 1833-34, 1850-56, and 1865-72. The breadth of research conducted on the cholera epidemic is broken down in a creative medium that facilitates the ability of its users to conduct their own search of cholera outbreaks. An interactive timeline allows the user to slide past different dates to reveal markers on the map of Haiti below indicating locations of various outbreaks.

Cholera map Havana detailThe “Zoom:1833 Havana” tools takes the interactive features to another level. The tool uses a Google Earth plug-in to display statistics, such as mortality rates and how these are distributed among black-white, slave-free populations in the city of Havana, Cuba. The user can also see “Summary Statistics” for the region as a whole. The tool allows us to see how the first outbreak of the cholera epidemic in this era can be traced to specific neighborhoods and zones in Havana.

The Cholera Timemap is a project that combines qualitative and quantitative data on the outbreak of a major epidemic and presents this data in a way that allows any user to either receive specific information in a quick and easy manner or receive a general overview of the spread of the epidemic throughout time. The research will also be a valuable tool for studying the cholera outbreak that is currently affecting Haiti. This temporal mapping out of the deadly epidemic is both visually and historically compelling and definitely worth a look.

The Student Research Team that collaborated on this project during Spring 2011 includes: Erin Cloninger, Matthew Hoyle, Alston Neville, Sedlin Mirtil, James Ivker, Dhrusti Patel, Edward Jernigan, and Alfredo Rivera. An article on the project will soon be published in the journal Emerging Infectious Disease, published by the US Center for Disease Control.

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Editor's note: This is the first post by Sonul Rao, the Haiti Lab's 2011-12 media intern. Welcome Sony - and thanks!!  
-- Christina Chia