Friday, January 8, 2016

Notes from the Mad Science Lab: Attenuated Plague

As of three days ago, everyone in the lab is sick. That includes myself, my two assistants, the crypto-zookeeper, and five support personnel. Symptoms included all the usual "flu-like" qualities, and then some: high fever, nausea, mucus, headaches, muscular weakness, lack of energy, diarrhea, swollen joints, hair loss, dizziness, and in one case (the janitor) even stigmata.

This... shouldn't be possible. Not only is this unlike any known disease, you would not believe the precautions we take against viral and bacterial threats. No, something like this would have to be introduced deliberately.

I was making a list of my enemies peers, and considering which of them might have been responsible, when another possibility occurred to me. Even with the cerebral edema, I couldn't believe I didn't think of it earlier. But we came down with this, all of us, all at once, about three days after my son came by for his scheduled visitation. My fifteen-year-old son, who had just spent the last month getting over a particularly nasty case of the flu. My son, who likes to play with the gene sequencer.

Sure enough, when I checked the logs on the sequencer, I found that he'd been tinkering with a virus. He must have introduced it to all of us, deliberately.

So I called him up and asked him why he was trying to kill us.

Unsurprisingly, he said he wasn't actually trying to kill us. "If my calculations are correct," he told me, "there's only about a four percent chance of death, if you have proper medical care. It's an attenuated strain."

An attenuated strain of what, exactly? "Everything," he told me. "Measles, polio, West Nile, influenza, HIV, strep, Ebola, mono, herpes... it has pieces of all the heavy hitters."

"So it's a super-plague?"

"An attenuated super-plague," he said. I waited, and he explained: "I mean, yeah, it's still pretty horrible, but once you get over it you should be highly resistant to just about everything."

So... fine. My son has inoculated us, and he probably hasn't killed us. And he said he wouldn't release it into the general population; a four percent mortality rate would cause a lot of chaos. So everything is probably fine.



  1. And this is why, when possible, the medical establishment prefers killed vaccines to attenuated ones.


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