Throughout human evolution civilizations have been faced with implications from infectious diseases caused by various environmental factors. This connection was recognized as far back as the 5th century by Hippocrates and since several key advances have been realized and will be addressed in this an environmental and physical geography of disease. Arthropod or vector-borne viruses are among the most common pathogens introduced into the modern human population. West Nile Virus is considered endemic in most parts of the world and appeared in the United States in 1999 with 62 confirmed cases in an urban New York location. Since its first appearance in the United States the proliferation has been rapid and exponential with many contributing factors influencing its spread. This research will examine factors contributing to the increased prevalence of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the Upper Minnesota River Valley, Minnesota, USA between the years 2002 to 2012. A historical walk through the diverse world of medical geographic research will be analyzed as well. This will allow the basis for this research to be clearly defined and built upon. The advent and ever-increasing functionality of remote sensing and geographical information science (GIS) technologies enables a detailed analysis of factors to be undertaken with such an environmentally connected pathogen. This paper utilizes GIS and remote sensing techniques to analyze changes in climate, land cover, population and disease patterns that are impacting the prevalence and distribution of the disease.


Forrest Wilkerson

Committee Member

Ginger Schmid

Committee Member

Cynthia Miller

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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