The Rhume Virus, more commonly known as Rhume, was a highly contagious pathogen that predominantly infected humans staying on Pax. Surviving your first case of Rhume was seen as a rite of passage within the community.
The prevalence of Rhume was inevitable -- Pax’s relatively short stay limit as well as its political centrality to the IU meant that individuals from around the globe, with different immune systems, varying hygiene practices, and unique microbial communities were constantly interacting.
The symptoms for Rhume include fever, chills, cramps, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. Severe symptoms can lead to death.
Viral predecessors to Rhume were around as early as -1100 when traders from Tekal, Ilona, and Ilesar first exchanged microbes. The modern version of Rhume did not develop until around 10-20, after Pax had been established as the center of the IU.
Rhume spread easily because it was an airborne respiratory virus that traveled in mucus droplets released from a cough or a sneeze. Additionally, it mutated easily and often. Point mutations that occurred during the DNA replication of Rhume’s genome altered the viruses’ antigens, making it possible for one to pass Rhume to their co-worker, only to get sick from the same co-worker with a mutated version of Rhume two weeks later. Although rare, particularly severe strains of Rhume were known to form through the merger of two different Rhume variants, in a process known as antigenic shift. One notable example is R62-85 -- Its outbreak in 458 was so severe that entire buildings had to be quarantined and sanitized for a week.
There was also a notable incident involving Rhume at the University of Pax in 480. A few biology students dared each other to see who could function the longest while sick with Rhume. The students continued to come to class while sick and performed their daily activities without rest or medicine. Unfortunately, the sick individuals got everyone else sick and disabled almost the entire biology department, including other students, lab technicians, and professors. Biology classes were cancelled for a few days.
The best treatment for Rhume was prevention. New vaccines for Rhume were produced bi-annually and good hygiene practices were strongly encouraged. For those who were sick, the treatment for Rhume was rest and hydration. Certain medications helped mask the symptoms of Rhume, but they did not eliminate Rhume from your system. Letting your body fight it off was the only way to get better.
Possible Concerns Edit
Due to Rhume’s highly mutative nature, Rhume vaccines do not guarantee complete prevention of Rhume. As a result, Rhume has a realistic probability of causing an epidemic on the Ingenuity. Effectively quarantining infected individuals will be difficult considering the ship’s limited space, and there are concerns that, should the air filtration system fail for any reason, Rhume could easily be circulated throughout the ship.