Though it can strike at any age, this dread disease rarely affects children or young adults, and rarely becomes serious until after middle age.
The cause and manner of transmission of the Pox are poorly understood. It is generally only mildly contagious, requiring relatively prolonged exposure to one afflicted with it. However, some victims contract the disease after one brief exposure, while others seem to have a natural immunity, and can withstand years of close contact without ever succumbing to it.
Insatiable craving for names, dates and places; patient often has a blank expression and seems deaf to spouse and children; has no taste for productive work of any kind, but will spend long hours feverishly looking through books at libraries and courthouses; may become addicted to the use of microfilm and microfiche readers; may become a compulsive letter- writer or phone-caller; may tend to lie in wait for the mailman, cursing him soundly if he only leaves bills or circulars; frequents strange places such as cemeteries, attics and any place where dusty old books and photographs can be found.
These have always been the classic symptoms. But recently the virus causing this Pox seems to have mutated. The newest symptom is spending hours in front of a computer screen, sending e-mail messages and looking for more and more genealogy websites on the Internet. This can lead to dire consequences, as the victim often forgets to eat or sleep and can become emaciated, disoriented and clinically speaking, totally nuts!
There is no known cure, and fighting the disease only makes the victim withdraw from contact with those trying to help him. Humoring him, or joining in his obsessive activities seem to be the best ways for loved ones to deal with it. It is progressive, but has never been known to be fatal. The patient should attend genealogy workshops, subscribe to genealogy magazines, and be given a quiet place where he can be alone. If the patient is inattentive to those closest to him, his attention can be gotten, at least for short periods of time, by promising him a new website address, or a new and more powerful computer. But perhaps the surest, and certainly the least expensive way of getting his attention, is to ask a question - ANY question - about his great grandmother!
The most unusual aspect of this disease has always been that, the sicker the patient gets, the more he enjoys it!
Sadly, I confess that I suffer from this affliction. It has plagued me for many years and though I have tried many different treatments, I have been able to find only temporary alleviation of symptoms for brief periods of time. I fear there is no remedy.