The Red Flu is the name set for the disease outbreak that has devastated the world in The Last Ship and is the main story driver of the series. It is extremely contagious and is lethal to most patients who came into contact with the virus, excluding a small percentage of people who are naturally immune to the disease.
The Red Flu is caused by an ancient strain of virus that is buried for millions of years under the thick, permanent ice of the Arctic. In the 21st century, due to the effects of global warming, the virus escaped its confinement in silence, and due to its airborne property, quickly spread into the atmosphere and the water. Its progress was also boosted considerably by its consumption by birds, specifically the Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea).
The virus does not prove to have the potential to create a pandemic yet, until it is mutated artificially by a Norwegian doctor by the name of Niels Sørenson who injects himself with the virus and then tries to create a cure using his unique gene-splicing method. He then proceeds to make a fatal mistake by adding the human's gene into the virus, unleashing the virus' deadly nature. Due to his contact with the primordial strain of the virus, Niels was immune to the deadly properties of the now mutated strain, but instead of being sterile of the virus, the virus lives neutrally within his body and he became a human carrier of the virus and can spread the virus effectively through his respiratory system, in which, later on was discovered contain the largest concentration of the virus within his body. This in turn, made him the Red Flu's patient zero.
Before the outbreak, the virus was spread by his wife who was infected as he kissed her good-bye before she went on a trip to reach various parts of the world that included the U.K., Germany and Italy, spreading the disease further on a global scale. The virus made itself known to the world through a pocket of infection in Giza, Egypt though this was a different less virulent strain than the one that Niels spread. Several other cases have also been reported across Africa and Asia.
In Egypt, Dr. Rachel Scott has came into contact with several infected patients and took their blood examples for her pursuit of the cure, of which she soon discovered that the main key to the cure for the disease lies in the original primordial strain in the Arctic. Realizing the severeness of the disease, the United States's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C) and the United Nations' World Health Organization (W.H.O) orchestrated a plan to send a United States' Navy Arleigh Burke-class Guided Missile Destroyer bearing the name of U.S.S. Nathan James and hull-number of 151 to escort Dr. Scott and Dr. Tophet to the Arctic for her to retrieve the test subjects required while also acting as her sea-born laboratory for researching and initial production of the cure.
The disease at this period of time has wiped out 80% of Earth's population. Over 5 billion people were killed by the virus world wide with 300 million of them being Americans.
After the discovery of an immune survivor named Bertrise, Rachel was successfully able to create both a vaccine and a cure for the virus and began efforts to spread it. After capturing Niels and stripping him of his immunity, leading to Niels' death, Rachel figured out how to create a "contagious cure," spread simply through contact like the virus itself. Through use of this contagious cure, the Red Flu pandemic was stopped and the virus was apparently eradicated.
A few years after the end of the pandemic, the virus mutated once more to become the Red Rust, infecting Earth's plant life and biosphere instead of its human population.
Signs and Symptoms Edit
The disease is described as being extremely contagious and lethal to most who are exposed.
It is also described as having a mix elements of Influenza and hemorrhagic diseases such as Ebola and Hanta.
Early symptoms of the disease including:
As the sickness progresses, usually within a matter of days, lesions appear on the patient's skin. Rapidly after that would be delirium, hemorrhaging, organ failure then death.
- Primordial Strain - The original strain found in the Arctic permafrost that was released by global warming melting the permafrost.
- Egyptian Strain - A mutated version of the original strain that infected Egypt and the Middle East though less deadly than the final strain. It is known to have had over a million casualties before it mutated again due to Niels Sørenson.
- Human Gene Strain - The deadliest strain of the virus, created when Niels Sørenson spliced a human gene into the Egyptian Strain and injected it back into his own body. Due to the human gene, it is highly adaptable and was able to spread unchecked. This strain of the virus killed billions of people in a matter of months.
- Red Rust - A mutated strain that emerged and infected plant life and the Earth's biosphere years after the virus was thought beaten. The famines and other indirect effects caused by this strain killed millions of people.