Hazard map

Biological: epidemics

Maps produced in response to a disease outbreak or epidemic, depicting the incidence and spread of the disease, public health countermeasures, or both.
Strategic or operational?


Basemap, baseline or situational?


When might it be produced?

Mapping may be in demand at all stages of a disease outbreak.

Intended audience

All responders including health sector actors, but also other humanitarian responders including logistics, nutrition and other sectors.

Influence on humanitarian decisions

Major disease outbreaks involving an international response are rare, however in such cases mapping may be an important tool for understanding the spatial progression of the infection, and for planning and coordinating health services for disease control and treatment, as well as addressing wider humanitarian needs arising due to the outbreak.

  • Disease characteristics vary (as shown in the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak), and so the spread of even a previously well-understood disease in a new context may be novel.
  • Epidemiologists may aspire to map outbreak data at a very granular level; however this should not be allowed to delay or compromise mapping of more generalised data (e.g. total number of cases at district level).
  • Effective management of the outbreak will depend on timely updates of case data and control measures. Standardised maps/infographics must therefore be capable of being rapidly updated and disseminated.
  • Maps of case incidence should show clearly the change in case rates – take advice from epidemiologists about intervals and other metrics.
  • Baselines: population data; pre-outbreak health indicators (although these will not normally be spatially discriminated); public water supply infrastructure (in the case of cholera or other waterborne diseases).
  • Case data for current and any previous outbreaks.
  • Healthcare infrastructure (usually collated by the Ministry of Health or health cluster).

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