[Originally published November 1, 2010.]

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What is Bieber Fever?

The consensus within the scientific community is that a J1B1-type virus—commonly called Bieber Fever—apparently “jumped” to humans for the first time in January 2007 when Pattie Mallette’s poorly lit video of her thirteen-year old son performing Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” in a local singing competition began receiving an impressive number of non-familial hits. Prior to this jump, the worrisome strain infected only sound-enabled computers, causing them to emit a hideous prepubescent squeal that could only be cured by smashing the afflicted machine to bits (pronounced “bytes”). Twenty-four-year-old industry mogul Scott “Scooter” Braun was the first to be infected with this particularly ominous version of the J1B1 virus, which he then transmitted to best-selling R&B recording artist Usher. From there, the J1B1 pathogen entered American headlines.

Today, health authorities insist a pandemic based on the J1B1 virus strain is not only inevitable but already underway. Once restricted to three-ring binder covers and .gif-heavy MySpace pages, the virus has proven incredibly resilient both to vaccination and high aesthetic standards, most recently infecting network television’s premiere season through the CBS crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Risk of continued spread through the primetime viewing public via the franchise’s various location-based spin-offs remains alarmingly high.

What are Bieber Fever symptoms?

Some GPs trace the onset of the virus to the tendency to drop those letters in the second-person pronoun deemed non-essential, though if this is the case, tracks like “U Remind Me,” “U Got It Bad,” and “U Don’t Have to Call” suggest an earlier strain of the virus might have mutated within Usher as early as 1997. Other common symptoms include:

  • Giddiness
  • Inability to concentrate on math homework
  • Increased heart rate and possibly loss of consciousness at the sight of forward-combed hair
  • An all-consuming desire to cancel any subscription that is not Tiger Beat

How does Bieber Fever spread?

The J1B1 virus strain is highly contagious and is known to affect humans who repeat the word “baby” three times in the key of E-flat major. By the time Ludacris is heard rapping about puppy love, it is usually too late: you have already been exposed.

How many people have Bieber Fever?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 2 million and 7.4 million people worldwide are afflicted. The original “Justin Singing So Sick by Ne-Yo” video alone has 2,635,671 views, though the WHO’s estimate reflects the likelihood that hundreds if not thousands of those views come from Bieber’s own mother showing off to her sewing circle.

What are the implications of
Bieber Fever for the elderly?

Current studies show that the risk for novel J1B1 infection among people age 65 or older is significantly less than the risk for younger age groups. Overall, seniors have been spared from the novel J1B1 virus!

However, even though people age 65 and older are not at high risk of infection with J1B1, they are at high risk for seasonal influenza (flu) as well as most every other communicable disease out there. Most experts agree: a fair trade-off.

How can I prevent Bieber Fever?

All Americans share in the responsibility to reduce the spread of the virus, which causes more than 1.2 million retweets (RTs) every year.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends taking these steps:

  • Avoid direct contact with either My World or the My World 2.0 mutation
  • Avoid children (who are not your own)
  • Avoid the electronics section of American retail chains such as Target or Walmart
  • Avoid the periodicals, young adult, and memoir sections of your local bookseller
  • Avoid Top 40 Radio, MTV, the Teen Choice Awards, and the Internet
  • If you must access the Internet, avoid Twitter at all costs

Should I cancel my travel plans?

Only if those plans tend toward major metropolitan areas home to arenas whose naming rights have gone to a corporate sponsor. (This also includes the Great White North. Do not be fooled by the charming inversion of the “r” and “e” in their corporate-sponsored Centers—Stratford, Ontario, after all, was the location of the first documented case.)

What else should I be doing?

The most important thing to remember during this difficult season is to stay calm. It is imperative that you not contribute further to the mass hysteria. Cut your hair. Refrain from wearing hoodies or G-Star Raw skinny jeans. Speak in a dialect that is not wholly at odds with your upbringing. And, in the unfortunate event that you do become infected, do not panic. The CDC recently released a study whose findings indicate that millions of people with Bieber Fever go on to lead relatively normal and fulfilling lives.