N+I: Seeing SARS?

LAS VEGAS -- Networld+Interop -- Unstrung has seen not anyone in a mask yet, but anecdotal evidence suggests that some people may be staying away from the Networld+Interop show because of fears about severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the health scare that's breaking out all over like the latest funky dance craze.

Usually, laughably easy access to gambling, prostitution, and Wayne Newton pretty much guarantees a good turn-out for N+I. But old hands say that the numbers attending the show look to be well down on previous years. It's said that one analyst chose to stay away, citing the disease as the reason. (Rumor has it his mommy may have simply told him he couldn't come out to play.)

Blaine Kohl, VP of marketing at WLAN startup Bandspeed Inc. notes that there were only twelve people on her flight from Texas to the show [ed. note: leaving barely enough room for their hats].

There are, of course, other reasons why attendance is down: the economy, fear of flying and, let's face it, many attendees will have seen that John Chambers keynote before. But SARs -- along with wireless -- is definitely one of the hot topics at the show. (Reaching fever pitch, one might say).

But are those fears warranted? To put it in perspective, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the disease has so far killed 321 worldwide, compared with 36,000 influenza deaths each year in the U.S.

At time of press, Unstrung's corrspondent was feeling quite well, thank you.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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