According to this article, it looks like Blizzard is going to be collaborating with scientists to study the spread of infectious diseases.
A quote from one of the scientists:
“By using these games as an untapped experimental framework, we may be able to gain deeper insight into the incredible complexity of infectious disease epidemiology in social groups.”
Apparently Blizzard had an outbreak of a ‘virtual disease’ two years ago called “Corrupted Blood” which high level characters could endure, but which quickly killed lower level players. They had to reset the computers in order to gain control of it, after they were unsuccessful in closing off infected areas of the game.
I think this could be a really interesting study.