Friday 5 September 2014

Editor's Note #20: Tweepidemiology...

Updated 05JUL2015
Followers of my @MackayIM Twitter account (and this blog which gets promoted through it) since I started tweeting. It shows the cumulative rise and rise of followers and the relationship of the rate of those rises to very active periods of infectious disease outbreaks and epidemics over the past 18-months or so.
Click on the graph to enlarge

While it's hard to separate whether I pick up followers because of the delivery of specific content or because as you pick up followers, they help spread the word and you pick up more followers, to simple old me this cumulative graph looks like MERS-CoV and the West African Ebola virus disease outbreaks drove people to seek information. Sometimes those people have done me the honour of following me on Twitter, accompanying me on my own journey to understand what's going on. I'm constantly amazed at that, let me assure you.

I thought it worth having a look at the Tweepidemiology of my Twitter account. That is, the epidemiology of my Twitter followers - a bit of a long bow - but you follow me because I talk about infectious disease outbreaks and stuff and because I like my new word...I'm keeping with it!

I paid Twitter Counter to get my Twitter data, plotted it in Excel, tidied it using Illustrator and here it is. 

I started Tweeting a little after I started blogging - this Twitter thing is for the young people and their constant need to take selfies and update the world on their and learn. 

Despite VDU blog posts on the emergence of influenza A(H7N9) virus in China dating back further in time, I came to Twitter well after H7N9's Wave 1 was engaged. So the slow burn could have been due to that or just because no-one knew me or that I could generally be trusted and generally don't spout drivel. 


So there ya go - Tweepidemiology - a way of looking at when and perhaps why one gains followers through social media when it's used to engage the public and try and help people understand what's happening with new or emerging viruses and diseases . Perhaps I should check what happens when I post photos of my cat too.


  1. Corrected some typos and grammatical errors

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