A mathematical model proves that Bieber fever is one of the catchiest diseases of our time.
Imagine: you're the parent of an adolescent Justin Bieber fan. At some point, the musical heartthrob has probably struck fear into your heart -- the fear that your child is in the clutches of an unhealthy obsession.
What would possess someone to buy up Bieber toys, read Bieber fan fiction, watch Bieber movies, and sleep in Justin Bieber pajamas? The clinical term for this condition is Bieber fever, and according to a Canadian mathematical model, you're right to be afraid. It's even more contagious than the measles, one of the fastest-spreading diseases on earth.
To reach their alarming conclusion, University of Ottawa scientists Valerie Tweedle and Robert J. Smith? (the question mark is a part of his name -- don't ask) started with a standard tool in epidemiology called an SIR model. SIR models help researchers categorize people who are susceptible to a pathogen, infected, or recovered. In a SIR model's most basic form, patients migrate from S to I to R in a linear fashion.
Bieber fever is especially nasty, though. People who are infected with it can recover -- either through eventual boredom or through Bieber's negative media coverage -- but crucially, once they've recovered, they become susceptible to the illness all over again with exposure to positive media coverage, or by coming into contact with the still-infected. Considering the intensity with which Bieber fever often grips its victims, that means the disease is more or less self-sustaining.