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Online 'blood plague' offers lessons for pandemics

  By TechUniverse
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - In the dungeons of Zul'Gurub frequented by online game enthusiasts, a giant winged serpent called Hakkar the Soulflayer may offer important clues to epidemiologists trying to predict the impact of a pandemic. In September 2005, a plague called "Corrupted Blood" caused mayhem in the hugely popular online game World of Warcraft. What happened next illustrates the kind of issues policymakers will have to grapple with if a deadly outbreak of swine flu in Mexico spreads. An estimated 4 million players were affected by the pandemic, and by the time it had run its course, whole virtual cities were littered with the bones of the dead, with most survivors fleeing urban areas for the relative sanctuary of the countryside.

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