The question of travelers' diseases

In prior threads, there was discussion of bringing a specimen home to identify and photograph; the iNaturalist location would then be the point where it was collected, not the point where it was photographed.

So here is a similar scenario:
Say you return home from a trip abroad, and shortly afterward, you are diagnosed with dengue fever, or chikungunya, or maybe even something as esoteric as Kyasanur Forest disease. None of these diseases occur in your home country, so you must have become infected during your trip abroad. Now, say you want to make an iNaturalist observation of the pathogen. Presumably, you would need to put the location as where you became infected (collected the specimen), not where you were diagnosed (identified the specimen). The problem is that it is difficult to know exactly where that was. If you spent the entire time at a single field station, it is simple enough – just make the circle of uncertainty encompass the area of the field station. But suppose you visited various sites during the trip? If the disease has a precise incubation time, you might be able to extrapolate where you were when you became infected by counting the days back from when symptoms began; but if the incubation period is not precise, you may not be able to do this. How then would you determine what location to record?

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You can set accuracy as big as you wish, so getting the whole country is possible. I hope people won’t need to think about such problem, though, because of the dangers.

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The organisms/parasites/viruses are inside you, right? So wherever you are, the pathogen is as well.

Edit: I suppose if you want to be as accurate as possible you would record the exact location you expressed symptoms or tested positive.

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This seems to be one possible option. Another possible option is to use the original location and time, which sounds like it would have to be an estimate. Either seem valid to use.

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Personally, having had to deal with some of these nasty and somewhat esoteric traveler’s diseases myself, I’d put it as close to where you think you contracted it as possible.

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I had a couple of bot flies I contracted in Belize, and I recorded them as being where I was pretty sure I got the bite responsible for the parasite. I figure that’s where the breeding population is, so me recording where I removed it (back in the US) wouldn’t be good data.

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Just to clarify my comment, I’m not against using the original observation location and it could be a good idea to, although technically it is in both locations so either seem valid (even if not established in the new location).

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The only types of viruses I’ve observed, other than human warts and COVID-19, have been canine viruses. They usually catch these viruses in puppy mills or by living in places that have equally inhumane conditions. When they get tested for these things at the shelter and the test is positive, I mark the virus’ location as the shelter because that’s the only place I am confident the virus is. That’s a little different than something that undoubtedly originated from another country, but some of the dogs that come into the shelter I do volunteer work at have came from other countries and could’ve gotten sick there, but it’s not something I can really say for sure.

Human or canine, I think it would be okay to do the location at an approximate location or even the entire country, but I also think it could be alright to do the location as where you are while you have whatever it is you have, but it would probably be best to make an explanation in the notes section. People would probably prefer representation of the origin, even if just approximate, rather than the latter, but I think either could be defended.

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Are we talking about contagious diseases? Then the place where you are, and potentially infecting others. For whom you, back home, are their local source of infection.

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I think it would be best to make a good guess, and leave a note about where the organism was diagnosed within you. If I contract malaria, have it diagnosed at home, then put the location of P. falciparum as Winnipeg, it would likely raise questions. That organism is not naturally found here - ever.

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For infectious diseases or parasites that infect humans, we are the habitat, so I think it’s fine to put the location as where a human is at the time they have the disease/parasite or where they contracted it: both are valid. While it may be that transport by the human (as an infection) was unintentional, in a certain sense it was very intentional from the perspective of the disease/parasite.

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"An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location"
source: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help

Yes, although the organism continues to exist in the new location too.

Although take for example the original SARS-CoV-1. It reached North America although didn’t become established. By comparison SARS-CoV-2 became endemic globally including in NA, and has been recorded globally on iNat. It seems in the current iNat system that either/both locations would be valid to use. You’re correct that observing malaria in NA can raise questions though, which raises the question of if additional qualifiers or subcategorizations would be ideal to use, such as related to origin or whether the organism is established. On the other hand we observe and identify records of insects in new countries even if they may not be established, such as the Okinawa Mud Wasp (Delta esuriens) which has shown up in Florida and California.

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Wherever you were when you recorded the evidence you are using in the observation, that’s where I would put the location.

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This makes sense. Although another thing is someone could observe the organism in both locations even if at different times (multiple observations).

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Where the organism is naturally found is irrelevant.
It is the particular time and location of the “observation”, not where it could have been or where it may be in the future.

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Point taken. However SARS-Co- 2 is now found in Winnipeg. As in most of the world. “Vagrant” organisms are found sporadically outside their normal range, so it is appropriate to record them as such. The parasite that causes malaria will never be found here unless imported in a person, in which case, it should be eradicated. I suppose it could be classified as a vagrant, but it’s home range should be taken into account.

I agree that the context and original location are relevant.

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You also can easily make two observations for different dates.

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If an observation is defined in iNat terms as an “encounter,” then I “encountered” it where it infected me.