Shut Down Everything!: Diseases on the Move


What doesn’t kill you is said to make you stronger, but there are things in life that leave debilitating scars, and there are also things that will outright end your life. The threat of disease has been a constant reality to be faced by people from all walks of life, and while some may be contained or even extinguished, many remain undiminished in their capacity to afflict the human race. Many have been the occasions when a great epidemic would befall settlements, bringing about unimaginable mass suffering and ending civilizations.

Above is a flow map chronicling the spread and repercussions of three notorious and life-altering diseases: leprosy, smallpox and malaria. The first two diseases are distinguished with red and blue arrows respectively, further detailed with an image of a hand and severed finger to represent leprosy and a body covered in boils for smallpox. Areas affected by malaria are shaded yellow. Throughout the flow arrows of the first two diseases and the yellow regions of the third are nodes representing landmark events associated with various related events such as historical findings, medical breakthroughs and statistical anecdotes.

There is no better way to chart the history of contagious disease than with a well executed flow map. The reader can be quickly captivated by the dynamic appearance of the map, and the various tidbits of information shed light on how these diseases have played a role in the human story. I find that the design aesthetics remind me in a way of a representation of the human body, with red and blue blood vessels ending in capillaries and sickly pustulent regions surrounding them. The sense of a body under siege is very much appropriate for the subject matter, given that two of the diseases are of biblical infamy and the other is one of the world’s greatest killers of men.T he map is fairly comprehensive and visually engaging. I honestly feel that, if I were to attempt to make a similar map, there would be little for me to improve on the design aside from a short blurb describing the diseases.

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