The SXSW plague of 2008: Shinerbockellosis

Update: it’s not a real infection unless it can follow you on Twitter. Check out SouthByScurvy’s first tweet: “collecting souls.”

This has got to be one of the sickest winters in my recent memory. It seems like everyone I know is battling something. The latest strain seems to be related to going to SXSW. Is this divine punishment for twittering too much about the event?

This latest wave made me think of the original conference-goers disease, the O.G. of conference-based bacterial infections, the only new disease spawned from gathering in a hotel for a conference: Legionnaires’ disease. Wikipedia tells the story:

The first recognized outbreak occurred on July 27, 1976 at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where members of the American Legion, a United States military veterans association, had gathered for the American Bicentennial. Within two days of the event’s start, veterans began falling ill with a then-unidentified pneumonia. They had high breathing rates and chest pains. Numbers differ, but perhaps as many as 221 people were given medical treatment and 34 deaths occurred. At the time, the U.S. was debating the risk of a possible swine flu epidemic, and this incident prompted the passage of a national swine flu vaccination program. That cause was ruled out, and research continued for months, with various theories discussed in scientific and mass media that ranged from toxic chemicals to terrorism (domestic or foreign) aimed at the veterans. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mounted an unprecedented investigation and by September, the focus had shifted from outside causes, such as a disease carrier, to the hotel environment itself. In January 1977, the Legionellosis bacterium was finally identified and isolated, and found to be breeding in the cooling tower of the hotel’s air conditioning system, which then spread it through the entire building. This finding prompted new regulations worldwide for climate control systems.

Once the experts figured it out, the family of bacteria was assigned to the genus Legionellosis.

I hereby create the genus Shinerbockellosis (close runnerup to Lasmanitas-ellosis and Ironworks-ellosis). If only it could be cured with more Shiner Bock. . . . .

Get well, folks (I’m suffering along with you!)

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2 thoughts on “The SXSW plague of 2008: Shinerbockellosis

  1. I’ve been battling a terrible cough up in Manhattan. But, the best thing to get me through the nights is a delicious Shiner Bock. Best beer ever.

  2. I escaped getting sick, but wanted to take the opportunity to thank you and everyone else for the FireEagle/Flickr party. I enjoyed myself very much. A classy, fun event that was the highlight of my SXSW experience.

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