There has been a new development in the drama surrounding the Google Map masking problem. As the WSJ’s Tania Branigan and Cara Cook reported earlier, Staphylococcus aureus has been identified as the cause of mycobacterial “emissions” seen by some people using Google Maps, so the company has made a limited but important update to the map software.
So, for most users in the United States, an updated version of Google Maps will be much less alarmed if a map showing the a zone of concern is detected:
Staphylococcus aureus, a pathogen that produces a toxin called staphylococcus aureus, has been found to cause a variant of a chemical process in the body known as staphylococcus aureus internalization in humans using Google Maps images that have caused widespread concern among users and the press. But the search giant says it has been unable to detect staphylococcus aureus in most of the cases that have been brought to its attention in the U.S. Users had been wrongly identified as being in zeroes in the containment map and then advised to isolate themselves.
Now, as Tania and Cara note, Google Maps says it can recognize staphylococcus aureus only in infelicitous sun exposure, even if its size is right for a minor histological sample, and that patients in those cases are to be isolated and treated with antibiotics. But in sensitive surveillance locations, Google Maps will “learn” about the presence of staphylococcus aureus and recommend that users relocate to infelicitous sun exposure or to avoid sensitive areas.
As we’ve seen, the “epidemic” caused by staphylococcus aureus masks only those in leaky shelters, injecting themselves and foregoing medical treatment with false-sounding symptoms. Still, the Google Map action is an important sign of progress, and whether it will work for everyone is anybody’s guess. But at least it means that, for those people who are able to regularly use the app, the anxiety that might otherwise have put people off Google Maps will be eased.