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The "corrupted blood" disease spread rapidly within the popular online World of Warcraft game, killing off thousands of players in an uncontrolled plague.
The infection raged, wreaking social chaos, despite quarantine measures.
The experience provides essential clues to how people behave in such crises, Lancet Infectious Diseases reports.
In the game, there was a real diversity of response from the players to the threat of infection, similar to those seen in real life.