Friday, September 24, 2010

Physiology of the Apocalypse

John Joseph Adams' anthology, Living Dead 2, just came out. The contributor's copy is on my desk. It contains my story, The Crocodiles. I wrote a blog entry for it and Tor's zombie week but it didn't make any sense to people who haven't read the story.

That never stopped me in this venue.

So here it is. And, just for fun, here is The Oatmeal's take.

A New Species of Toxoplasmid Worm

Otto Weber, Josef Mengele, Otmar von Verschuer, Maxwell Schmidt
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Hirnforschung, Buchenwald
Zeitschrift für Immunitätsforschung und experimentelle Therapie, 129 (1939)


A new species of worm, Toxoplasma brasilia, has been demonstrated to cause behavioral changes in Homo sapiens.

Suitable human hosts were acquired as subjects. T. brasilia was shown to preferentially infect human hosts over cat, dog and Rhesus monkey specimens. Cat and dog showed marginal infection rates when inoculated. Rhesus monkeys showed approximately 35% infection rate compared to 100% human infection rate subsequent to inoculation.

Inoculum was derived from centrifuged samples of Cerebral Spinal Fluid from an infected subject. Five types of inoculum were used experimentally: distilled water as control, an unfiltered centrifuged sample, a solution derived from the sample using a 100 micron filter, a solution derived from the sample using a 50 micron filter and a solution derived from the sample using a Chamberland filter. Subjects inoculated with both the centrifuged sample and the 100 micron filter showed full disease presentation. Subjects inoculated with a solution prepared from 50 micron filtered residue caused cerebral hemorrhage and stroke. Subjects inoculated with the result of the Chamberland wash showed symptoms consonant with rabies. In all cases when full presentation of symptoms was not demonstrated, incubation was prolonged. However, when full presentation was demonstrated, incubation was markedly shortened. No infection was shown using distilled water. Subsequent inoculation of the distilled water subjects using a combination of the result of the Chamberland wash and the residue of the 50 micron filter wash showed full disease presentation.

T. brasilia was identified via microscopic examination of the residue from the 50 micron filter wash.

Cat and dog specimens infected with centrifuged samples showed no behavioral abnormalities with disease presentation. Similarly infected Rhesus monkeys showed only lethargia and fever. Humans showed significant initial behavioral changes including euphoria and expressed affection, followed by coma. Coma persisted three to five days and was accompanied by substantial drop in body temperature approximating 20 ℃. Upon arousal, the low body temperature was retained and subjects exhibited increased aggression accompanied by aphasia. Post mortem examinations showed marked lesions in the cerebrum and cerebellum as well as in the amygdala and hypothalamus. Stereotaxic analysis is shown.

It is concluded that T. brasilia either hosts or cultivates a form of the rabies virus. In return, the virus facilitates infection. T. brasilia acting alone or T. brasilia acting in concert with the virus is responsible for the physiological and behavioral changes.

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