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It was far more complex and dangerous than the original. The death rate on the planet seemed to be 60% significantly higher than the 43% of the original Scourge.
Over half of the population was affected, but the symptoms of the new Epidemic were variable and difficult to predict or treat. The mutation didn't respond to the use of melange since its molecule was no longer as effective in blocking the receptor sites. In this devastating incarnation of the virus, pus-filled lesions on the skin gradually covered the entire body, killing the membranous skin cells, layer by layer and camouflaged the genetic blueprint of its DNA.
The only partially effective treatment involved specialized blood-filtering treatments from modified dialysis apparatus. Like its previous incarnation, this new retrovirus seated itself in the liver, but the slow and difficult dialysis procedure was not sufficient to cull out toxins faster than the infected body could produce them.
Ticia Cenva and her Sorceresses while putting the planet under a quarantine, had worked to combat the spreading plague in the cliffside cities, using their own cellular and genetic knowledge. They used as well native herbs and drugs provided by the VenKee pharmaceutical researchers, who were also stranded on the planet due to the quarantine. After a full week, they requested urgent aid from HuMed.
Raquella Berto-Anirul went there to attempt to cure the population of the virus, and find out why it mutated and Raquella scrambled for a cure. She looked for patterns, trying to map genomes and project the statistically probable components of the virus based on the available evidence.
Standard protective devices proved ineffective, sterilization routines sometimes failed, and even potent doses of melange did not guarantee safety. In time, more than 3/4 of the population in the cliff cities was infected, and the majority of those died.
Raquella and Dr. Suk were out of their depth and failing in their efforts to treat the disease. None of Dr. Suk's trial vaccines had shown positive results, and the epidemic continued to rage through the communal caves.
Eventually Raquella made contact with the Misborn (Rossak children with birth defects who had been abandoned in the jungle) obtained cenote water and was able to use that, along with a poison from Ticia Cenva, to synthesize an antidote using her own internal chemistry. She administered that antidote, and the mutation was destroyed.