Project Motivation

Since Dr. John Snow first plotted cholera deaths as points on a map of London in 1854, public health professionals and epidemiologists have embraced the value of maps in disease management. In the field of public health, the roles of geography and geographic information science (GIS) have changed as well, from after-the-fact analysis to prediction, prevention, and proactivity. Organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), The Carter Center, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now routinely use maps and web mapping applications to disseminate up-to-date information about diseases and perform real-time analyses, regularly tracking outbreaks of serious diseases like Ebola, Malaria, and Zika. In addition to analysis, these public health agencies also monitor the distribution and incidence of the “big three”—HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

Despite the blending of epidemiology and geography for the “big three,” GIS has not yet been applied in the case of several other diseases that are largely ignored due to a lack of publicity or government resources. The WHO has classified seventeen of these as Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), conditions and illnesses that affect the extreme poor in developing tropical regions. With the acknowledgement that other under-represented diseases and conditions might benefit from the NTD status, in May 2016 the WHO released a roadmap for disease reclassification, requiring the inclusion of a “dossier” of information about the disease and its treatment as part of the petition. Each WHO member state or region is invited to submit a request to the WHO Strategic Advisory Group on NTDs for reclassification of endemic diseases and conditions. In this vein, this project suggests a third use for GIS within the public health sphere, combining academic research, volunteered geographic information, collaboration across disciplines, and advocacy to produce an eLibrary that can fulfill the WHO requirements for reclassification.

This study focuses on one epidermal parasitic skin disease (EPSD) called tungiasis, caused by a superinfection of the parasitic flea Tunga penetrans (T. penetrans). Tungiasis afflicts people living in extreme poverty in tropical regions and is endemic to Central and South America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, over 1 billion people are at risk for the painful and disfiguring disease, most notably children, the elderly, and the physically or developmentally disabled. Despite its terrible social and economic costs and high morbidity, tungiasis is largely unheard of in developed countries and ignored in developing countries.

In order to bring more awareness and funding to combat this disease, this study constructs an innovative web GIS that might serve as the required “dossier” of literature that WHO member states must deliver when petitioning for NTD status for tungiasis.

Hints and Tips for using the Tungiasis eLibrary

Click on the headings below to learn more about each feature or scroll down for a quick infographic. A sample article is available for testing purposes under the Contribute Data heading.

  • Zoom in and out to see more layers, using the +/- button or the mouse scroll wheel.
  • The Home icon zooms the map out to its full extent.
  • The Search bar can be used to search for places using keywords or coordinates.
  • The eLibrary Search enables users to search the library for articles by primary and secondary focus, author, title, country, journals, or citations. This is the best tool to use if you are trying to locate articles by authors that are not listed first.
  • The Basemap Gallery (four-pane square) allows you to choose different map styles.
  • The Help feature contains instructions on how to use the app, also found here.
  • To explore all Attribute Tables, click on the icon that looks like a data table. Navigate between multiple tables using tabs.

The Launch Pad at the bottom of the map contains Widgets, or in-app functions, represented as round icons. From Left to Right:

  • The Legend shows layers visible at the current scale--as you zoom in on the map, different layers will appear or disappear.
  • The Layer List displays all data associated with the web application, including layers that are currently turned off.
    • To prevent clutter on the map, not all layers are turned on.
    • Turn a layer on or off by checking or unchecking the box next to it.
    • Some layers are only visible at certain zoom levels.
  • The Browse Articles widget provides users with pre-set queries that add meaning to the collected data. Click the "Search Articles" button below for more details about this widget.
  • The Contribute Data widget enables users to input—-or “volunteer”—-data. The Tungiasis eLibrary is a database of journal articles, whitepapers, gray literature, and government papers that pertain to Tungiasis. Click the "Contribute Data" button below for more details about this widget.
  • The Chart widget allows users to see various attributes displayed in a pie or bar chart.
  • The Select and Export widget offers users another way to select data and export in various file formats.
  • The Bookmark widget lists locations of interest on the map, and enables users to create their own bookmarks.
  • To see the Time animation, turn off the Tungiasis eLibrary layer in the Layer List, and then click the time button. The widget plots the articles in the order of the year they were published in an interactive animation.

The Contribute Data widget enables users to input or “volunteer” data. The Tungiasis eLibrary is a database of journal articles, whitepapers, gray literature, and government papers that pertain to Tungiasis.

For application testing, please use the following sample article and follow the directions at left to "volunteer" the article to the Tungiasis eLibrary.

Sample article:
Mwangi, Jamleck N., Hastings S. Ozwara, and Michael M. Gicheru. 2015. “Epidemiology of tunga penetrans infestation in selected areas in Kiharu constituency, Murang’a County, Kenya.” Tropical Diseases, Travel Medicine and Vaccines 1, no. 13.


  • Determine the literature type:
    • Journal Article
    • Whitepaper (NGO)
    • Government Paper
    • Prevalence Study
    • Gray Literature
  • Determine the literature's focus or topic:
    • Survey or Study
    • Medical
    • Traveler
    • Information
    • Global and Public Health
    • Spatial Data
    • Veterinary
    • Entomology/Biology
  • Determine the geographic location of the article. Most articles contain detailed location information, but usually not exact coordinates. Choose a point on the map roughly equivalent to the location of the study.
    • (For articles with a Global focus, please place the article with others of its same focus in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, at Longitude 45°00'00.0"W. Latitude varies by article focus.)
  • When the point has been placed, the panel will change into a form requesting certain data attributes:
    • Country of Study (Required)
    • Article Type (Required) The default is Journal Article
    • Article's Primary Focus (Required) This was populated when you selected the literature’s focus
    • Secondary Focus
    • First Listed Author
    • First Listed Author's Country
    • Published Date (Required)Please use January first of the published year in the format "1/1/2004"
    • Journal Title
    • Article Title (Required)
    • Turabian Citation This field can take time to fill out, but enables other users to search for all affiliated authors, not just the first listed. For citation guidelines, click here
    • DOI (Digital Object Identifier.) This is another type of link used by academics and academic journals
    • URL If at all possible, please provide a link!
    • Attachments If a PDF of the document is available and permitted to be shared, please upload it. Alternatively, if you have spatial data in the form of KML, shapefiles, or ZIP files, please upload those.

User Survey

Thank you for participating in this user survey. Your responses are anonymous. Feedback from this survey will be used to improve future versions of the Tungiasis eLibrary.

Chigoe Flea Eradication Project

The Chigoe Flea Eradicaiton Project WebGIS serves as a prototype developed to illustrate the efficacy of GIS as a parasite management and eradication strategy. This collection of spatial data and integrated volunteered geographic information allows users to map and analyze social and environmental risk factors for Tungiasis. It empowers local charities to collect and share micro-level data with macro-scale actors like the Kenyan Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, and USAID. It also provides a shared workspace for organizations that may lack the technology or resources necessary for inter-agency collaboration and communication.

In addition to layers that encourage the exploration of risk factors for tungiasis, the application accepts volunteered data:

  • Organization Service Area: Volunteer organizations are invited to enter contact information and coverage area on the map.
  • Structure Treated: Users can record pesticide application and living conditions in individual shelters.
  • Individual Demographics: Users (health care providers, charity workers, government workers) can record and store demographic information of Tungiasis victims to a map for ongoing spatial analysis and research.

Visit the project website here