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August 27, 2012

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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
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The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

The Disabled List from DOMAINFest Global Continues to Grow as Dozens Battle Nasty Bug

With approximately 700 people on hand last week's DOMAINfest Global conference in Santa Monica, California drew what is believed to be the show circuit's biggest crowd ever. While it was another great event for the DOMAINfest series, having that many people from around the world in such close proximity to one another over several days has one downside - the possibility that a viral infection could sweep through the crowd. Unfortunately that appears to be what happened with more people being affected than I've ever seen before. 


Jeroen van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The show ended Friday (Feb. 4) and the first reports of people falling ill started popping up on blogs and Facebook posts by Sunday morning. By today close to three dozen people had added their names to a DOMAINfest attendee's sick list posted on Facebook by Nico Zeifang, one of those who contracted the bug that has sidelined so many this week. I know of at least a dozen more who fell ill, some of whom have been very sick for three days now and these are just reports from within the domain community. DOMAINfest also draws sizeable groups from other areas including venture capitalists, affiliate networks, the SEO world, etc. If we heard from them too odds are the virus's victims list would be in triple digits. 

While my wife Diana was one of those who fell ill (along with many of our closest friends), I was one of the lucky ones who was not affected. I did have some coughing and chest symptoms Sunday but nothing reached my head (Diana says nothing ever does!) and my minor issues all quickly went away. Diana is gradually getting better after a very rough day Sunday.

However, some others, including some tough guys that are extremely difficult to bring down, including David Castello and Markus Schnermann, are still looking for the light at the end of the  tunnel. Markus posted on Facebook today that his flu has developed into pneumonia and David told me this is the sickest he has ever been. David suggested that if any of you who have fallen ill have weakened immune systems, you should see a doctor right away. Shortness of breath or lung congestion would also be red flags as they could point to pneumonia. 

No one can say say for sure what the source of the infection was but a lot of interesting theories are being bandied about. One prominent domainer who developed pneumonia after last year's DOMAINfest Global party at the Playboy Mansion, and who is sick again after attending last week's event there, has one possible culprit in mind. He thinks a fog machine that was blowing moist air into the huge party tent all night could have been distributing microbial hitchhikers as well. The fog was so thick that most of the photos I shot inside were obscured by a cloudy haze, but whether or not that cloud cover had anything to do with the outbreak is anybody's guess. It is true, however, that a nasty bacterial infection that creates flu like symptoms - legionella pneumophila - is often spread by water vapor/mist.

A fog shroud hangs over the dance floor at the Playboy Mansion 
Thursday night (Feb. 3) in the grand finale of the DOMAINfest Global conference.

In most cases I have heard about involving couples, both individuals fell ill. I can only think of one reason why Diana may have caught it while I did not. I rarely get sick so over the years it became apparent to me that when I fell ill it was almost always immediately after coming home from a trip. In planes, hotels and in meet and greet sessions, you touch so many surfaces and people that the odds against you go up astronomically. Knowing that - and that we are in the middle of flu season - I made a special effort on this trip to frequently wash my hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer. I also tried to avoid touching my hands to my face, but that is a tough one as we all do it frequently without thinking about it. If you make those things a habit though, it at least gives you a better chance to stay healthy.

I am no germaphobe though and nothing is going to stop me from shaking everyone's hand that I meet, hugging my friends or going to conferences like DOMAINfest. Those are the kind of things that make life worth living. As bad as it feels to be sick, I haven't heard anyone say they wouldn't do DOMAINfest again next week. None of us wants to live in a bubble - we get enough of solitude in all of the endless solo hours we spend in front of our computers! So, all we can do is take some simple precautions and hope those tilt the odds in our favor when so many of us get together in one place. After what happened this year, I will probably be getting a flu shot next winter too!  For those who are currently under the weather we wish you all a very speedy recovery.

Update: I received two more notes since posting the info above that underscore how important it is for your to see a doctor if you are not getting better. Both notes point to the possibility that this could be a bacterial infection rather than viral as many assume - and that opens up a different set of issues.

First, a well-known domainer who fell ill wrote, " I was as sick as ever till yesterday so my meet and greet immunity failed despite having a flu shot! Further my condition responded to strong antibiotics suggesting to me, the layman doctor, that it is bacterial in nature.

Second, my daughter, who is a 2nd year medical school student, wrote, "If there is a suspected water source as the culprit - like you mentioned the fog machine - and people are getting pneumonia you have to worry about getting a bacterial infection. If people aren't getting better they definitely need to see their doctors. So many people getting sick in one place, sounds like a case for the CDC."

So, if you are ill, do not take this lightly. We want to see everyone back at 100% as soon as possible.

(Posted Feb. 8, 2011) 

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