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On the topic of epidemics, a story about SARS

At the Hong Kong airport, you are required to pass through an area that uses some sort of technology to detect body temperature. If you have a very high fever, they pounce on you and presumably quarantine you because of fear of SARS. I adopted my daughter Sophie from China. She had two defining traits when we first adopted her. First, if she wasn’t strapped to my chest in a Baby Bjorn carrier, she screamed like crazy. Second, when she slept, she heated up like a furnace and sweated profusely.

Combine those two, and the effect was that when we walked through the heat sensors at Hong Kong airport, we set them off. If you have been to Hong Kong or China, you probably observed that labor seems to be very cheap. There are usually 5-10 people assigned to a job that one American would be responsible for. That was true of this SARS detection job. An army of workers descended on us, whisking us away and taking our temperatures, looking down our throats, etc.

Apparently we passed, because as quickly as we were descended upon, they receded. We had a layover and I watched the heat sensors for a long time. We were the only people that I ever saw stopped.