Public health awareness of autoimmune diseases after the death of a celebrity

Nicola Luigi Bragazzi, Abdulla Watad, Francesco Brigo, Mohammad Adawi, Howard Amital, Yehuda Shoenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autoimmune disorders impose a high burden, in terms of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Vasculitis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and destruction of blood vessels. Harold Allen Ramis, a famous American actor, director, writer, and comedian, died on the February 24, 2014, of complications of an autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis. To investigate the relation between interests and awareness of an autoimmune disease after a relevant event such as the death of a celebrity, we systematically mined Google Trends, Wikitrends, Google News, YouTube, and Twitter, in any language, from their inception until October 31, 2016. Twenty-eight thousand eight hundred fifty-two tweets; 4,133,615 accesses to Wikipedia; 6780 news; and 11,400 YouTube videos were retrieved, processed, and analyzed. The Harold Ramis death of vasculitis resulted into an increase in vasculitis-related Google searches, Wikipedia page accesses, and tweet production, documenting a peak in February 2014. No trend could be detected concerning uploading YouTube videos. The usage of Big Data is promising in the fields of immunology and rheumatology. Clinical practitioners should be aware of this emerging phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1911-1917
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Rheumatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Autoimmunity
  • Big Data
  • Harold Ramis
  • Social network
  • Vasculitis


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