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How Diseases Spread: an inconsistent infographic

Posted on 17th April 2015 by

Learning Resources


What is it?

‘How Diseases Spread’ is an infographic created for the general population by mha-online.org, an organisation involved in health administration education, looking at the different causes of death in upper, middle and lower income countries. It’s well designed and informative, although not especially snappy given its fairly long length.

First Impression

My initial impression was unfortunately one of confusion. I had thought that it was an infographic specifically about infectious disease, given the title relating to the spread of disease and the germ cartoons covering the background, so was surprised to be initially confronted by a fact about the percentage of deaths that are age-related. It was only once passing the tables depicting the overall top 10 causes of death, only two of which were infectious, did I realise my mistake.

After the interesting data on the differing causes of death in higher and lower income countries I was intrigued by the large section about historical epidemics. There were some surprising facts but this part was quite long in comparison to the following explanation about how new diseases develop which I thought was a pity, but perhaps that’s just a personal preference. Unfortunately my confusion about the focus of the infographic arose again, since the reasons for new diseases developing related only to infectious disease. Is that the focus of the infographic? Wasn’t it about all disease? I’m still not sure.

I enjoyed the final graphic about four upcoming threats (Ebola, whooping cough, Enteroviruses and measles) with a concise run down of their symptoms, how they are passed on and pleasantly accurate depictions of what these microbes look like. It seemed like a reasonable place to end, although I would have liked to see more about the actual mechanisms of disease spreading given the title of ‘how disease spreads’.

Overall Verdict

I enjoyed this infographic. It was a nice, relatively quick introduction to the variety of disease that exists and would be educational for the lay person, although isn’t really about how disease spreads. It seems to have slightly lost its way in deciding what its main focus is. Sticking with infectious disease alone would have generated a more cohesive end product.




Katherine Stagg

I'm Katherine, a 5th year medical student at the University of Oxford. I intercalated in immunology and my current interests are in oncology, immunotherapy and public health education. View more posts from Katherine

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