The Atlantic

Most Maps of the New Ebola Outbreak Are Wrong

Villages, and sometimes whole regions of the Congo, are misplaced—but the ministry of health and a team of cartographers are racing to get better data.
Source: Cyrus Sinai

On Thursday, the World Health Organization released a map showing parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that are currently being affected by Ebola. The map showed four cases in Wangata, one of three “health zones” in the large city of Mbandaka. Wangata, according to the map, lies north of the main city, in a forested area on the other side of a river.

That is not where Wangata is.

“It’s actually here, in the middle of Mbandaka city,” says Cyrus Sinai, indicating a region about 8 miles farther south, on a screen that he shares with me over Skype.

Almost all the maps of the outbreak zone that have thus far been released contain mistakes of this kind. Different health organizations , most of which contain significant discrepancies. Things are roughly in the right place, but their exact positions can

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