Swine flu fears from Penny Arcade Expo


I'm seeing a number of tweets from participants and organizers of the recent PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) which indicate at least one case of swine flu has been confirmed, and more feared.

PAX is a three-day game fest for tabletop, videogame, and PC gamers, and took place September 4-6 in Seattle. Perhaps folks more familiar with the details than I can update us in the comments here. Organizers are using the hashtag #paxflu to track updates on Twitter. Of course, this could also be a very crafty viral marketing campaign. Seriously, though: to those who contracted it or are at risk, get health care pronto, and get well soon. (via @willsmith)


  1. Gilbert Anonymous here:
    How do people know it’s swine flu and not regular flu? Or just a bad cold or allergies?

  2. errm, all conventions are giant infection breeding grounds…this is non-news

    I got swine flu from the Sony Online Entertainment block party thing, and that was a small/mediumish outdoor gathering

  3. RT @wilw “Oh hey, guess what? I think I have the same flu that @pvponline and @cwgabriel have. Irony: I was [IMMUNE] in the PAX SARS game.”

  4. Didn’t you get the memo from the pork industry that we’re supposed to say “2009 H1N1 Influenza Virus” now?

  5. I’ve been referring to it as #ThePax on twitter, for the good ol’ Serenity reference, but I was unable to attend PAX, so I am not infected.

    Would you like to go back to my place, bouncy-bouncy?

  6. Since a bunch of my friends went, I gave them all a poke to update them about the possibility of PAXpox. (Okay, flu….but PAXpox is more alliterative.)

    Was on the fence about going, specially since we live in Seattle, but we needed the weekend for packing anyway.

  7. to those who contracted it or are at risk, get health care pronto,

    As a Canadian, this never occurred to me before, but the implications of this scared the ever loving shit out of me… What exactly happens if you have a potentially deadly virus like this and do not have health insurance? If you go to a hospital to be quarantined, do you end up racking up a multi-thousand dollar bill for protecting society at large from your illness?

  8. Weren’t you guys recently linking to a webpage something along the lines of “Will I get swine flu” and when you clicked on it, in big letters, the word “No” came up.

    What changed?

  9. We went and had a blast. Two friends got sick. I got ever so slightly sick with a scratchy throat, but recovered. Friends going to get screened at doctor tomorrow.


    A few interesting facts:

    There are more people dying from the normal plain flu (no not “a bad cold”, the REAL flu) than there ever died from the swine flu. Every year. Yet no-one freaks out.

    Although both Germany and Britain reported the same number of infections, Britain reported 44 deaths, Germany, zero. This is statistically impossible. Even the 44, though, are about 0.1% of all infections. Which could very well mean that the deaths are caused by other factors.

    Many cases are so mild, they aren’t even reported, further decreasing the perceived deadliness.

    Source (sorry, German): http://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20090903_OTS0021

  11. Lumpi: Guess that depends on your mileage for “freaking out.” Discussing the spread of the flu–any flu–isn’t a bad thing. One of the reasons the 1918 flu was able to spread so quickly was because it was wartime and many papers were censored. People often didn’t know about pertinent outbreaks until they’d already gone out and infected other folks. And any large gathering of people is a great petri dish for a virus to run amok in. War bonds parades and crowded barracks were two of the flash points for the deadly 1918 flu. So it makes sense to warn attendees and get the news out. You see “freak out”– I see pertinent news being passed along.

  12. H1N1 is not hugely more deadly than common flu strains.

    It’s not hugely more virulent either.

    So whats the danger?

    It’s a new flu that no one has immunity to. And it has come out of nowhere and spread across the world in a matter of months because of this. It’s run completely rampant without much to slow it down.

    We’ve entirely lucked out that this wasn’t a super deadly flu. It could have been, but for some unknown reason it was rather weak.

    It’s for this single reason millions aren’t dead right now.

    Better to overreact to a false alarm than under react to a sh1tstorm.

  13. I’m pretty positive I caught it. Started coughing on Saturday night, woke up Sunday with the full blown symptoms. Cough, fever, headache, fun times. Of course, I don’t have health insurance so I can’t go to a doctor. I don’t think it’s really that necessary at the moment anyway as it seems fairly mild.

  14. If you’re not seeing freak-outs, you apparently haven’t watched any major news channel in the past few months. The “death toll 2009” coverage is still in swing.

    I just wanted to calm the people who attended PAX and/or are feeling sick.

    It is, of course, a very fast-spreading virus and it is to be taken seriously. Wash your hands. Stay at home if you got fever… all the most useful tips are common sense, really.

  15. More people have come down with an upper respiratory virus than swine flu, at least looking at the PAX forums.

    Sorry, kids… if you’re not having gastro-intestinal distress, it’s probably regular flu, not swine flu.

    Fucking posers.

    /Was hospitalized on Sunday
    //Missed all the concerts
    ///Fuck the guy who said “it’s not swine flu, I’ll go to PAX anyway”

  16. FWIW, the CDC doesn’t suggest to treat 2009 H1N1 swine flu any differently from regular flu. I recommend reading their webpage on the subject. Basically, unless you appear to be having complications or unless you’re in some higher-risk group (old, young, pregnant, diabetic, etc), just stay home to avoid spreading it, and ride it out like any other flu.

    Also, anon#17 is incorrect, lack of GI problems does not mean it’s not H1N1.

    (I had a post-PAX 24h flu — all the classic flu symptoms except vomiting and none of the typical cold symptoms — was it H1N1? I have no idea, and in terms of medical response it doesn’t really matter.)

  17. I had gastro-intestinal distress saturday night, but I think that was more from eating poorly than actually being sick.

    Curse you Taco Del Mar! Why do I keep going back to you when you just end up hurting me?

  18. Yeah, I’ve been calling it “Small PAX”. I’ve been sleeping most of the time since getting back on Sunday, self-quarantined from family in the master-bedroom. All things considered it isn’t that bad… I’m just hoping the fever will break soon (without drug assistance) so that I can get on with my life.

    PAX was still a ton of fun, and I’ll go again regardless of the health risk. (Safer than a cruise ship?)

  19. I got swine flu at AnimeNEXT, I’m fine, no big deal. I only went to the doctor because I thought I had strep originally.

    Basically, if you think you have it: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

    Well, don’t go to work, but you get the picture. It’s not a big deal.

    (To poster #9: If you don’t have health insurance, nothing happens, because it’s not worse than the regular flu. The most you’ll have to pay is the initial doctor’s visit and the $100 or so for the Tamiflu.)

  20. Lumpi@16: If you’re not seeing freak-outs, you apparently haven’t watched any major news channel in the past few months.

    Actually, I don’t have TV, so that might be why. But I do live in a major city (Seattle currently) and nobody seems to think the sky is falling. They’ve closed schools here and there, but this is nothing like the freakouts I saw during the elevated terror alerts when the Home Depot in my Sandy Eggo neighbourhood was sold out of plastic sheeting and duct tape.

  21. #12: Lumpi

    The concern about H1N1 has to do with who has been dying not how many. Seasonal flu deaths tend to be people already weakened, the very old and sometimes the very young. H1N1 is killing rarely but when in it does the people are frequently young and healthy. The epidemiological concern is with how it will mutate in coming months. With luck not much will change and it will remain a minor thing. However, given it’s ability to kill otherwise health people there is more than sufficient reason for the health community to remain vigilant until they fully understand the virus.

    The easy mistake is to assume a virus is a static thing and neglect the it’s potential.

  22. @Paul

    H1N1 is infecting younger people more then seasonal flu, for reasons which are not well understood, but it is still generally only severe in people who have underlying medical problems.

    It is good to make this distinction because one of the big fears from bird flu is cytokine storm (healthy immune systems attacking the body), which has been observed in human cases and which makes that particular strain especially dangerous. Cytokine storm has not been observed with H1N1.

    I initially found the coverage here in Australia to be sensasionalised, but the message appears to have got through, and (fingers crossed) the disease appears to have peaked in NSW, with hospital presentations for flu-like symptoms down lower than this time last year.

    This is especially good news for me as my wife is six months pregnant, and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to H1N1, so I’m all for very strong public awareness campaigns about swine flu.

  23. Our 2-year-old just got swine flu and passed it to us.
    It’s not that bad.
    Just a week of sleepy and queasy.
    (Yes, we know it was H1N1. They have a 12-minute test at the doc.)

    Bring on H1N2 bitches!

  24. Yeah, the advice to get medical attention is pretty irresponsible. It really does put others at serious risk of catching the illness. Aside from that, there’s not really anything that allopathic medicine can do to reduce the symptoms; even the much-touted Tamiflu has not been demonstrated to have any significant effect on H1N1, and can cause serious illness.
    Vitamins, a healthy diet, handwashing, immune-boosting herbs (and homoeopathic prophylaxis, where available) are the options for prevention and treatment.

  25. It’s just a flu, people.
    Lower mortality rates than the regular flu.


    A bunch of my friends have had it, I may have had it (didn’t get it checked, but the queasy and diarrhea symptoms don’t go with regular flu, so it’s likely)

    Doctors in my country had taken to just doing interviews to check for swine flu (instead of measurements) because the interviews seem more reliable.

    The most dangerous feature of swine flu is that no one has immunity (almost no one, those born before 1919 are getting fewer..) so that a quick, epidemic style spread can paralyze society a little bit. Then essential services get bogged down due to understaffing, meaning that healthcare and safety services could be problematic.

    So, to repeat. CHILL. it’s just flu.

  26. Oh, and this is not just my opinion, I had a lecture with a epidemologist (whatever it’s called, an epidemic specialized doctor).

    @ #25
    In the developed countries the deaths of young people have been confined to people with other serious issues which weaken the immune system. Just in places with weaker hygiene and very low standards of healthcare have young HEALTHY people been at risk. Hmmm, so you americans might be right to panic…. ;)

    Homeopathic treatments don’t do anything, vitamin pre boosters don’t do anything, tamiflu has severe side effects..
    Taking vitamin C while sick can (according to research) shorten the illness up to 20%, but mainly just keep eating and drink lots of fluid. Rest, with the head higher than the rest of the body to lessen likelyhood of pneumonia. And you will be fine in a week

    1. Oh, and this is not just my opinion, I had a lecture with a epidemologist (whatever it’s called, an epidemic specialized doctor).

      And yet, the World Health Organization rates it as a pandemic.

  27. I agree, it is just the flu, there is no need to go and see a medico. I can almost guarantee you they will tell you that you have swine flu whether you do or not. Your best bet is to go to bed and stay there whilst drinking plenty of fluids (water, fruit juices, veggie juices). Fast until you feel better.

  28. *IF* you get flu symptoms, in the US or in Europe, you can be pretty certain that it’s the H1N1 flu. The regular, seasonal, flu has not started making its rounds yet.

    Oh, and that’s a thing that’s sorta interesting. As mentioned above, a regular flu season kills a number of people, and costs society a whole lot of money in terms of people being away from work etc.

    This season we will have the H1N1, a regular flu, and possibly a second H1N1 wave. So even taken into account that the pandemic isn’t too bad, it is shaping up to be a *very* busy year for hospitals, doctors, and the rest of society….

  29. Chicken-Licken, the sky is falling.

    What is it with the “Swine Flu will kill us all” panic mentality? When there is little you can do about something like this there is nothing to worry about. The old adage:

    ‘You have nothing to fear but fear itself’

    … comes to mind.

  30. From the research I did when I got a nasty cold, swine flu doesn’t seem any worse, symptom-wise, than a regular H1N1 flu. It really won’t kill you if you’re healthy. The deaths in the UK have been kids, elderly or otherwise vulnerable (e.g. a widely-reported, supposedly healthy person was actually asthmatic).

    What appears to be different is that we have very poor immunity to it. It is able to spread during summer and spreads among healthy people. Normally, flus need colder conditions and disproportionately infect people with weaker immune systems.

    What could be bad is if it makes a comeback in the winter, especially if it’s mutated enough so that the first wave of infected can catch it again. Even so, it’s bad as in “flu deaths will be significantly higher than average” not bad as in “OMG! it’s parmageddon!!1!”

  31. I also came home from PAX with a nasty flu virus. No idea whether it’s swine flu or not, but it doesn’t really matter–I still feel hella crappy :(

  32. Yeah, I had it too. My doctor claimed she was seeing quite a few cases of people with swine flu calling her office. I suspect the console freeplay room was a massive breeding ground (controllers rotating through people’s hands every 30 minutes with no sanitization? win!) It’s not particularly bad– and with WSU overflowing with H1N1 infections, why are people even doubting that it /could/ have also made an appearance at PAX? This thing spreads like crazy.

  33. PAX companion? Giant can o’ Lysol

    but seriously folks– just took my kid to the pediatrician who was decidedly NOT in a dither. Bottom line if your healthy it’ll suck and that’s about it.

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