Skyfire Cure

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2393, Vol. 320, No. 4
Investigation and treatment of an unknown virus presenting in a Romulan population

Chythar Skyfire


Introduction

Starfleet Medical was alerted to an epidemic outbreak of an unknown disease on a Romulan colony. It was reported to possess a high transmission and mortality rate, and Starfleet assistance was requested. A multi-mission explorer vessel was dispatched in order to investigate and render aid.


Investigation

Upon arrival, detailed histories were taken from the infected and existing medical records were interrogated for information. Tissue samples were recovered from the deceased in the morgue, using standard Starfleet procedures. Further samples were gathered from asymptomatic individuals exposed to the disease.


Existing attempts to discern the epidemiology of the disease had included the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track the movements of the infected. Unfortunately, the tags themselves were of poor quality and the gathered data was of little use to the investigators.


Findings

The pathogen was identified as a virus with an incubation period of approximately 2 weeks. High levels of the virus were present in the respiratory system during active infection, resulting in a rate of airborne transmission estimated at 99%. Mortality rates were also observed to be approximately 99%.


The signs and symptoms included rapid tissue degeneration reminiscent of several strains of viral hemorrhagic fever, including bleeding diathesis, petechia, edema, hypotension, and muscle pain. Gastrointestinal signs were also present, with patients exhibiting vomiting and diarrhea in the late stages of the disease. Death or the beginnings of recovery typically occurred two to five days after symptoms began to present.


With no match to any known existing viruses, the pathogen was named Plasmodium-falciparum Romulopesti (PFR).


An amphibian form of life native to the colony world was determined to be the natural reservoir for the virus. As is often typical with natural reservoirs, the lifeform was asymptomatic and carried the virus as a subclinical infection. The source of the outbreak was discovered to be a child who had come into brief contact with one of the amphibian lifeforms.


PFR was observed to be unable to cross species to Betazoids and Orions, and a Human-Romulan hybrid was found to be infected with two strains of the virus, whilst remaining asymptomatic.


Treatment

The infection of a Human-Romulan hybrid allowed the Starfleet team to confirm that the Human immune system was able to produce the antibodies necessary to combat the virus.

These antibodies were synthesised aboard the response vessel using standard Starfleet equipment, and then delivered to the patients via an infusion that included vitamins C and D, which appeared to act as a catalyst for the antibodies via an as yet unknown mechanism.


Discussion and Recommendations

Thanks to the cooperation of the Romulan colonists and the swift response of Starfleet, loss of life was minimised. As the natural reservoir was determined by the investigation, the colonists were able to successfully eliminate PFR from the amphibian population, drastically reducing the risk of another infection and outbreak.

At present there appears to be no lasting physical morbidities due to PFR infection, though many of the survivors have expressed some degree of post-traumatic stress. Psychological support is in place for these individuals, and for those who appear otherwise healthy, six-monthly follow-ups are recommended for a period of five years.

Research into the interactions between human antibodies and vitamins C and D are required in order to further understand the exact mechanisms of the virus.


Addendum

Since the initial encounter on the Romulan colony, PFR has been observed in a population of Cardassians and viral samples are known to have been stolen and/or traded illicitly. The author believes there is a strong possibility that new strains are being engineered to target different populations, and thus that research into PFR should be of the highest priority.