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PAX, WSU, H1N1 - Howard Tayler
Ramblings of a Happy Cartoonist
CNN is reporting that 2500 students at Washington State University have come down with the H1N1 virus. From the article:
...officials were surprised that the long Labor Day weekend, when most students left campus, did not do more to interrupt the virus' spread.
Long Labor Day weekend, eh?

Maybe some of these students who left campus went across (EDIT: different towns!) the state to PAX. The Penny-Arcade Expo was also hit with H1N1. I mean, (EDIT!) Washington's a big place, but it's no stretch to imagine a few thousand local college students hitting a convention geared towards their demographic, right?

I'm not pointing fingers at anybody here. I'm just drawing connections that the CNN folks really should have already drawn -- there was a big event (EDIT!) across the state, and both the University and a crowded convention center make for a fantastic confluence of vectors.

You know what? H1N1 notwithstanding, I still wish I could have made it to PAX this year. But I'm glad I'm not in college anymore.
12 comments or Leave a comment
ccdesan From: ccdesan Date: September 10th, 2009 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
If you ever feel like giving up cartooning, you've got a fine career waiting for you at the CDC...

Edited at 2009-09-10 03:58 am (UTC)
alicebentley From: alicebentley Date: September 10th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I was quite pleased at the many measures the PAX organizers had to reduce the spread of infections. Hand sanitizers were set up at many doorways, and there were reminders of good procedure (cover mouth if you cough, don't touch your hands to your face, etc.) in with the regular con information.

Given that there will always be a whole lot of people gathered together, crowd control and infection awareness were excellent.
howardtayler From: howardtayler Date: September 10th, 2009 04:18 am (UTC) (Link)
And I don't doubt that for a moment. Like I said, I'm not blaming PAX, or the Penny-Arcade guys. This kind of thing just HAPPENS when you put thousands of people in one room.

I got sick at WorldCon, and took it with me to GenCon. I'd be Mister Hypocrisy if I suggested for one minute that Jerry or Mike were to blame, when I was actually playing the part of Typhoid Mary a month ago.

Okay, I was careful to wash, and to avoid contact, and I always coughed into my shoulder or elbow, but TRUE prevention would have dictated that I stay home.
howardtayler From: howardtayler Date: September 10th, 2009 04:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I should add -- what I had was pretty mild. If I'd been running an actual fever, or been laid up with aches and stuff, I would have canceled my travels.
gurgi From: gurgi Date: September 10th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Also, the pair of them have been really proactive in informing people, going so far as to put a list of flights that had known cases of (and I like to call it) the P4X9 strain.

All I know is, when I go next year, I'm cosplaying as a surgeon.
lionsphil From: lionsphil Date: September 10th, 2009 12:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just don't be a German surgeon, or you won't be able to take two steps without a call of "MEDIC!"
mspurrmeow From: mspurrmeow Date: September 10th, 2009 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
WSU is in Pullman, WA which is on the Eastern border, nowhere near Seattle. Still, a lot of students travel to WSU because almost no one actually lives there. The town is pretty much campus-specific with a few outlying ruralites. The good thing is that most people contracting it are not feeling any different than the regular flu, or even less symptoms.
howardtayler From: howardtayler Date: September 10th, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
That changes the vector pattern a lot, and I've edited my original post to reflect that. Still, it's likely that many Pullman/WSU folk went to PAX over the weekend ("ROAD TRIP!") and contributed to the spread of things.
darthparadox From: darthparadox Date: September 10th, 2009 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Having gone to PAX, and currently being one of the Afflicted as a result, I'm still happy I went.

I suspect the connection between the PAX and WSU breakouts might be one more level indirect: namely, the Seattle-Tacoma airport, point of departure for both PAX attendees going to other places and likely layover terminal for those eventually flying into Spokane (the nearest airport to WSU). There's a reason they always put out alerts for flights with infected passengers - there's nothing quite like spending hours in a metal tube with someone hacking up a lung to ensure your own eventual illness.
maritzac From: maritzac Date: September 10th, 2009 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)
It's also possible that it was the other way. That the students went to PAX infected, and infected everybody else there.
argonel From: argonel Date: September 10th, 2009 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
This news does give me second thoughts about my brother-in-laws invitation to go to PAX with him next year.
howardtayler From: howardtayler Date: September 10th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's like any big convention. There's always a plague risk with that many people in one place.
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