bacteria to shake

NewAmerica

Senior Member
Mandarin
What does "shake" mean here? "To move briskly to and fro or up and down"? Seems not. "Become loose and escape"? Simply a wild guess.

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Some patients infected with the disease frequently cross into Mexico for work or to visit family, slipping off the radar of public health workers who must verify they are taking their medicines. It is through these cracks in surveillance that the disease sometimes escapes, like a thief through a back-alley exit.

In the past few years, however, a new weapon has emerged that’s proved difficult even for mutating airborne bacteria to shake: the omnipresent smartphone.

-Scientific American

Source
 
  • NewAmerica

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    At first glance, my impression is exactly smartphone. Patients with TB talk to their phone and infect it. It is not easy for the phone to shake off the curse.

    The problem is that at the the beginning of the article the author tells us the story of those sneakers who dodge health checkup. Even if the smartphone works, how can you be sure the sneakers would use them? They are poor enough, not affordable.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Reading the sentence as written rather than throwing the whole paragraph up in the air and putting it together randomly, it says that mutating airborne bacteria are finding it difficult to shake (get away from) a new weapon.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's figurative. The bacteria aren't consciously trying to evade pursuit. The people involved aren't consciously trying to evade pursuit (in general). It's just that their lifestyle, with trips to Mexico where the monitoring system is weak, in pursuit of their life goals and necessities, puts them outside the system for a period of time.

    In crime movies when one character is being followed by another (called a tail) the first character might try to "shake off" the pursuer, by cutting through alleys or other maneuvering.

    The bacteria is figuratively likened to the first character. By traveling in its host to Mexico it's evading its "pursuers", the medical system. In the old days, once people were in Mexico, they were effectively out of touch and unable to be contacted. But now with smart phones that's no longer always the case. It's much easier to stay in contact and do medical follow up. So it's a "weapon" against the bacteria. In other words, it's something that helps kill the bacteria - not directly as in a drug, but indirectly in that it keeps the system in contact with the bacteria's human host to enable ongoing treatment.

    They describe smart phones as "omnipresent", which means they think even in Mexico almost everyone has one (or maybe is associated with someone who does).
     

    NewAmerica

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    It becomes much clearer.

    Thank you. :)

    They describe smart phones as "omnipresent", which means they think even in Mexico almost everyone has one (or maybe is associated with someone who does).
    Here's the catch: It sounds like a myth or a miracle. It sounds as if Apple's iPhones can be owned by everyone.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Well other brands are much cheaper. Even in Africa, the poorest continent, lots of people have mobile phones. Of course, they aren't all smart phones.
     

    NewAmerica

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Being cheap doesn't necessarily mean getting popular.
    Internet is cheap and you know how many people in the world don't have the access to it?
     
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