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Purple Death

The Purple Death virus.

The Purple Death is a viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain in humans, resulting in behavioural changes making them act aggressively and irrationally to the extreme. Approximately 28 seconds after infection the virus enters the bloodstream via the pulmonary alveoli. After one minute the virus has spread throughout the entire body. It causes capillaries all over the body to burst, causing intense pain and turning skin purple. It also enters the brain, where it shuts down the entire body, effectively killing the host. Ten seconds later, however, it reactivates all of the essential processes at a basal level. All areas of the brain connected to emotion and thought processes are deactivated, while the hypothalamus is stimulated into creating an intense sense of hunger. This turns the infected into virtual killing machines that attempt to attack and murder any life they are confronted with. Another interesting feature of the virus is that it emits detectable quantities of radiation. The exact mechanism behind this is still unknown, but it is thought that the radioactivity is caused by the decay of phosphorus-32.

The Purple Death was created by Minkalian scientists as a bioweapon to use in the case of a war threatening the existence of Minkal. It was used in the Grand Conflict, when Minkal was under attack from three of Mazeria’s superpowers. They released the infectious agent on Milromanian and Borean troops in an attempt to halt their invasion, but the situation rapidly got out of hand, the disease spreading throughout Boreo, Milroman, Azelia and Minkal itself. No cure has been developed at the time of writing.

In 2014, a terrorist Kravan organization got a hold of samples of the Purple Death virus and created new variations of the virus with the purpose to create bio-weapons for a coup d'etat on Mazeria.

Virology Edit

Classification Edit

The Purple Death has yet to be classified in an order, family and genus, as Minkal has not yet released any information on the creation of the bioweapon. Most of what is known about the virus is based on research by Milromanian and Luthionian scientists. The virus has been identified as a member of Group V of the Baltimore Classification, making it a negative-sense ssRNA virus. Several scientists claim it is a member of the order of the Mononegavirales, of which Ebola, measles and rabies are also members. There is evidence that the virus may be closely related to the rabies virus, as it has a very similar structure and also causes encephalitis.

Structure Edit

Purple Death structure

The structure of the Purple Death virus.

The Purple Death has a helical symmetry, and it has a bullet like shape similar to that of the rabies virus. It is about 160 nm long 65 nm across. One end is rounded while the other is flat. The lipoprotein envelope carries knob-like spikes composed of glycoproteins, used when entering a host cell. Beneath the envelope is the matrix protein layer. The core of the virion consists of helically arranged RNA.

Replication cycle Edit

The original Purple Death, developed by Minkal as a form of biological warfare, had no means of infection apart from through airborne particles that would enter the body through the lungs. Once somebody was infected, the virus would replicate inside their brain, but would not be able to spread to other individuals. After several days or weeks, the carrier would die, and the virus would be stopped in its tracks. The virus had presumably been designed that way, so that it would stay contained and not get out of control. Unfortunately the virus is a very versatile one prone to mutation, and it soon developed the ability to enter the salivary glands and be excreted in high concentrations along with the saliva. This meant that it could be transmitted through bite wounds. Combined with the animalistic behaviour that accompanies the virus when it infects someone, this forms an extremely efficient method of transmission.

When airborne, the virus enters the bloodstream through the alveoli in the lungs. When an open wound comes into contact with the particles, the virus is usually not concentrated enough to infect the host effectively. If someone is bitten however, the virus enters the body in high enough concentrations to infect the patient.

Once in the bloodstream, the virus adheres to the surface of erythrocytes, possibly through interaction with ICAM4 or BCAM. It gets transported throughout the entire body. In the brain the virus infects neural cells, where it immediately begins to replicate in the cytoplasm. As the concentration of the virus in the bloodstream increases, it also starts to accumulate in the salivary glands. Through bites it can then enter other victims’ blood, repeating the cycle over and over again.

Method of action Edit

Purple Death skin

The skin of a victim of the Purple Death.

As the virus spreads throughout the body, it releases an as of yet unidentified vasodilating substance. Blood vessels all over the body dilate extremely, causing capillaries to burst. This makes the victim’s skin go purple – the symptom to which the virus owes its name – and creates a burning sensation.

But the virus’ true ingenuity lies in its action upon the brain. When the virus is present in a sufficiently high concentration, it will switch off the entire brain. This causes the heart to stop beating, the lungs to stop breathing, the muscles to stop operating. In other words, it kills the victim. But, only seconds after death, the virus starts reactivating very specific areas of the brain. All functions essential for survival are reinitiated, but large parts of mainly the frontal and temporal lobes are left off. These include those responsible for logical thought, language processing and comprehension, facial recognition, and presumably emotion. It also stimulates the dorsal medial hypothalamus to create a feeling of intense hunger. All of this results in the infected losing all sense of emotion and rational behaviour, along with understanding and producing speech, and turning them into monsters that kill and eat anything that moves to quell their insatiable hunger. The brain will also swell during this entire process, a condition known as encephalitis.

The human body can only take so much before it breaks though. Victims will die after a period ranging from several days to a fortnight. Disconcertingly, this period seems to be becoming longer as the virus spreads and evolves. Once the host dies the virus still present in its body will lose their method of replication, and will no longer be able to spread to new victims.

P-32

The radioactive decay of P-32.

Finally there is the peculiar propensity of the virus to emit radiation. Very little is known about this particular attribute of the Purple Death, and it is unprecedented in nature. There are several different theories, but most of them agree that the radiation is emitted by phosphorus-32. The radiation is emitted under the form of β-particles with an energy of 1,709 MeV. P-32 has a half-life of 14,29 days, and decays into a stable sulphur atom. The first hypothesis put forward suggested that Minkal integrated P-32 into the viral RNA instead of the naturally occurring P-31. As the half-life is only two weeks, this would mean that after about a week a large portion of the phosphorus would be converted into sulphur, leaving the virus’ genetic material useless. This could have been done as an extra measure to avoid unwanted spreading of the disease. This would be the most logical explanation, and it seemed especially promising at first, but it turned out to have several inherent flaws. First of all, the method wouldn’t be very effective at containing the infection, as any replicated viruses would have normal phosphor integrated into its RNA. But secondly, and more importantly, the new generations of the virus also have P-32 instead of P-31 in their RNA. Therefore many scientists are rejecting the first hypothesis. Unfortunately, there is no great ‘second’ hypothesis, just a plethora of other, less substantiated ones. And they all fail to explain as to how the virus acquires or produces the radioactive phosphorus.

Prevention Edit

A simple gas mask is sufficient to protect oneself from the virus in its airborne form, unless there are open wounds present on the body. In that case it is extremely unlikely that the virus will infect a healthy adult effectively, but it can cause the skin around the wound to turn purple, and it can be fatal for the very young, old and infirm. When an open wound comes into contact with an infected patient’s saliva, usually through a bite wound, the disease is usually fatal. The only way to prevent this is to avoid the infected, and wear sufficiently protective clothing.

A vaccine for the Purple Death is under development, funded by the international community, but so far the process has been a slow and not very promising one.

Treatment Edit

There is currently no cure for the virus. Scientists throughout Mazeria are searching for one, but so far there have been no breakthroughs. As the disease is a virus, it is very difficult to develop an effective cure, as a virus’ replication is largely dependent on that of its host. The fact that the Purple Death is a rapidly mutating virus means that it swiftly becomes resistant to any potential cures.

Ribavirin

The chemical structure of ribavirin.

So far, the most promising treatment was one with ribavirin, a compound that inhibits RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and is also used for treating hepatitis C, but the virus rapidly became resistant to it during trials. Another approach that is being researched is one that inhibits the binding of the virus to the red blood cells, but as the mechanism behind that is still unclear, it will take a while before any progress is made on that front.

Fatality Edit

In the case of exposition to the airborne virus for more than ten seconds the virus is 100% fatal. If a gas mask is put on within those first ten seconds, that rate lies between 50 and 80%. The fatality rate for airborne particles entering an open wound is approximately 3%, and it is mainly children and the elderly or weak that die in that case. When bitten by an infected individual, people die in 90% of the recorded cases.

History Edit

The Purple Death was created as a bioweapon by Minkalian government scientists. It has not been released when work on the virus was completed, but it was first used in 2014, when several targets throughout Milroman and Boreo were hit by missiles containing the airborne virus. At first the virus remained contained to these areas, but soon it mutated to become transmissible via bites. It didn’t help that Minkal, in a desperate attempt to slow the Borean and Milromanian armies, released test subjects upon the enemy forces. The virus rapidly spread throughout the three countries, along with Azelia. So far no cases have been reported outside of this area, but if no vaccination or cure is found soon, it will likely spread throughout Mazeria.

Milroman is at the forefront of the research into the Purple Death and treatments for it. Luthionia is also contributing largely to the cure effort, as it is one of the region’s most advanced nations on the front of biological, biochemical and chemical research. It is presumed that Minkal is also working on a cure, but little information has been released, as the nation is officially still at war with its neighbours.

In late 2014, a Kravan terrorist group known as "Ret Seter Mana" (The Hand of Set) stole several samples of the virus from Luthionia and created variations of the virus for the purpose of making bio-weapons to stage a coup d'etat in Mazeria. Different organisms were created with the new virus and were collectively released in Mazerian cities, along with being distributed through water mains. The countries of Azelia, Boreo and Luthionia managed to contain the virus; while Pouksland, Minkal and Kravatya were severely infected.

Variations Edit

The "Hand of Set" terrorist group created 7 different variations of the virus with different side-effects and results:

Type AB Edit

The first initial variation of the Purple Death virus. The virus was merged with distilled Pannaplathemym, which would lead to an even faster transformation of the victim. When infected, the host enters into a state of shock and all vital organs stop working. After 10 seconds, the iris of the eyes dissolves into a white blur, and all organs start to function at a lower rate. The host is slower, but can resist even more damage. According to soldiers, it takes 5 shots to the brain to kill the infected. The most common methods of infection are vía bites and blood transfusions. The result of the Type AB virus on humans is the Beta-class infected (commonly dubbed "White Eyes").

Type AB-II Edit

What is considered the second phase of the Type AB virus, the Type AB-II virus will make the host transform even faster and evolve their physical attributes more quickly. When infected, the host enters into a state of shock and all vital organs stop working. After 5 seconds, the iris of the eyes dissolves into a bright yellow blur, and all organs start to function at a normal rate. 5 seconds later, the muscles on the back of the body and the fingers start to swell, to the extent of popping out bones; leaving sharp fingertips and a small hump. During the process, the swelling of the muscles throughout the body causes the arteries and veins to pop, spurting internal hemorrhages which cause the skin to turn red. This type of infected can resist even more bullets and will take more time to be killed. The most common methods of infection are vía bites, scratches and blood transfusions. The result of the Type AB-II virus on humans is the BetaMayor-class infected (commonly dubbed "Reds")

Claws Edit

This variation of the purple death virus was merged with reptilian DNA to get a different result. When infected, the host enters into a comatose state while the skin starts to harden and turn greenish. Scales start popping up from the skin and the muscles contract to a "saurian" shape. 30 seconds after infection, the host will awaken from the comatose state and enter into an animalistic state of mind. According to reports, the scales of the "Claws" are bulletproof, and the only vulnerable spot is a blue-ish area formed on the stomach. The most common methods of infection are vía bites, scratches and blood transfusions.

Colossus Edit

The "Colossus" variartion of the virus is currently unknown, only having been presented once. From what little was discovered, this variation of the virus caused the host to radically increase in size.

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