From: Scott Chase (
Date: Thu 10 Apr 2003 - 02:04:38 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: SARS!"

    >From: derek gatherer <>
    >Subject: Re: SARS!
    >Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2003 16:00:12 +0100 (BST)
    > > We should keep in mind that memes about things like
    > > SARS are now distributed
    > > over TV, radio and print media while contagion by
    > > the virus itself needs
    > > person to person contact in order to spread. I
    > > don't see any way to compare
    > > the spread of the two things.
    >Okay, so what then in the relevance, or rather the
    >value, of contagionism to the study of social
    > > The whole world
    > > became aware of the SARS
    > > virus the same day it struck the people of Hongkong.
    > > The actual affliction
    > > is moving a great deal slower.
    >Maybe the whole (TV-watching) world did become aware.
    >If so, how do you model that? Frequency jumps from
    >zero to one in a single instant? How could you fit a
    >contagion trajectory on that? You need some kind of
    >sigmoid curve to appear from out of your data, at
    >least the hint of one, in order to justify any
    >assertion that a contagion-like mechanism is involved.
    I'm not sure how instantaneous the spread pof knowledge about SARS has been. Thankfully the knowledge of the disease seems to have wound up spreading faster across the globe than the disease itself.

    I learned about it while doing my periodic skim of google news. Can't remember what day or time (should have jotted this down!). Could there be pockets of the world that are unaware, even those who watch TV? How well did various Asian media sources do in informing their respective publics?

    And what could we say about "awareness" of SARS? There could be a spectrum from those who, if aware, have a foggy notion of what it is to those who are expert in virology and epidemiology and are tracking its progress as thoroughly as available information allows. There's individual variation on the measure of "awareness". I know of it and worry a bit, but haven't keep up with all the details, preoccupied by the war (oops let that slip out;-)). Everytime I turn on the cable news (CNN, MSNBC, Fox"News") there's mostly war coverage with some mention of SARS on the crawler at the bottom of the screen. I wouldn't take my sporadic news viewing as an accurate reflection of total television media coverage, but it at least shows how distorted an individual's news reception may be due to the priorities of the media outlets. If I wanted to keep up more thoroughly, I could do google news keyword searches.

    All I know is there was that pandemic of influenza ca. 1918. Whether SARS approaches pandemic status or rivals 1918 remains to be seen. Hopefully it peters out (fingers crossed).

    My old microbiology text mentions a 1957 pandemic of Asiatic flu which appeared in China in February 1957 spread to Hong Kong and resulted in the outbreaks in the US. A figure on page 536 shows the US as an area which suffered a countryide epidemic, within the context of a global pandemic. It peaked in late October 1957.

    Brock et al. 1994. Biology of Microorganisms. Prentice Hall. New Jersey. p.535-6

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