• Dot map cartograms for detection of infectious disease outbreaks: an application to Q fever, the Netherlands and pertussis, Germany.

      Soetens, Loes; Hahné, Susan; Wallinga, Jacco (2017-06-29)
      Geographical mapping of infectious diseases is an important tool for detecting and characterising outbreaks. Two common mapping methods, dot maps and incidence maps, have important shortcomings. The former does not represent population density and can compromise case privacy, and the latter relies on pre-defined administrative boundaries. We propose a method that overcomes these limitations: dot map cartograms. These create a point pattern of cases while reshaping spatial units, such that spatial area becomes proportional to population size. We compared these dot map cartograms with standard dot maps and incidence maps on four criteria, using two example datasets. Dot map cartograms were able to illustrate both incidence and absolute numbers of cases (criterion 1): they revealed potential source locations (Q fever, the Netherlands) and clusters with high incidence (pertussis, Germany). Unlike incidence maps, they were insensitive to choices regarding spatial scale (criterion 2). Dot map cartograms ensured the privacy of cases (criterion 3) by spatial distortion; however, this occurred at the expense of recognition of locations (criterion 4). We demonstrate that dot map cartograms are a valuable method for detection and visualisation of infectious disease outbreaks, which facilitates informed and appropriate actions by public health professionals, to investigate and control outbreaks.
    • Modeled and Perceived Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields From Mobile-Phone Base Stations and the Development of Symptoms Over Time in a General Population Cohort.

      Martens, Astrid L; Slottje, Pauline; Timmermans, Danielle R M; Kromhout, Hans; Reedijk, Marije; Vermeulen, Roel C H; Smid, Tjabe (2017-07-15)
      We assessed associations between modeled and perceived exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) from mobile-phone base stations and the development of nonspecific symptoms and sleep disturbances over time. A population-based Dutch cohort study, the Occupational and Environmental Health Cohort Study (AMIGO) (n = 14,829; ages 31-65 years), was established in 2011/2012 (T0), with follow-up of a subgroup (n = 3,992 invited) in 2013 (T1; n = 2,228) and 2014 (T2; n = 1,740). We modeled far-field RF-EMF exposure from mobile-phone base stations at the home addresses of the participants using a 3-dimensional geospatial model (NISMap). Perceived exposure (0 = not at all; 6 = very much), nonspecific symptoms, and sleep disturbances were assessed by questionnaire. We performed cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, including fixed-effects regression. We found small correlations between modeled and perceived exposure in AMIGO participants at baseline (n = 14,309; rSpearman = 0.10). For 222 follow-up participants, modeled exposure increased substantially (>0.030 mW/m2) between T0 and T1. This increase in modeled exposure was associated with an increase in perceived exposure during the same time period. In contrast to modeled RF-EMF exposure from mobile-phone base stations, perceived exposure was associated with higher symptom reporting scores in both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, as well as with sleep disturbances in cross-sectional analyses.