Sirens Plague Condition in Ealdwyll | World Anvil

Sirens Plague

Something called out to me. Its song echoed across the waves.
— excerpt from the medical file of patient #15
Sirens plague is unique in a way because it only affects sailors far from any land. Combined with the high mortality rate the infected rarely made it to shore. It has, for a long time, been the least studied disease worldwide. Scientists and doctors had little more to go on then the reports from ship's doctors. Ten years ago that all changed. The Ippah Medical Foundation & University (IMFU) were given permission to use The Wayfarer and its crew for two years. Prior to its departure the ship was transformed into a floating hospital and research facility. Equipped with the best medical artefacts the university could spare they set out on their mission to find the cause and cure for sirens plague. In the two years that were granted to them, they navigated the seas picking up any person showing symptoms of the disease.


The IMFU-team managed to discover early on, through autopsies, that sirens plague is a fungal infection of the lungs which can spread to the brain and spinal cord. This lead to the realization that sailors can get infected after breathing in airborne spores. But where did these spores come from? The myths about sirens plague brought the answer. The name sirens plague is derived from the stories about sailors hearing an entrancing song echoing across the seas at night. Three to four days later they started to develop the first symptoms. Typical for this disease is that only one or two people per ship get infected. This lead to tales about sirens luring these men on deck at night were they infected their victims with a kiss. It was discovered however that the song is in fact a whale song. More precisely the song of the siren whale, which got its name because it produces the most haunting song of all whales. What makes the siren whales song even more special is that it manages to produce sounds that can easily be heard above water. Thanks to a dangerous endeavor the IMFU-team managed to prove that the fungal spores were in fact spread in the open air by the exhaling of the whales. It appears the siren whales are completely unaffected by the fungus. They merely function as a vector for the transmission of the spores.


The first symptoms of sirens plague, a cough and runny nose, are similar to those of many illnesses. This makes early diagnosis and treatment difficult. Other symptoms depend on the focus of the infection.


Within a day of the first symptoms the cough will progress into severe respiratory distress. The patient suffers shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pains, fever and fatigue. The coughs will grow worse and barely 48 hours after the first symptoms started most patients begin coughing up blood and eventually lung tissue.
When the sun touched the horizon his coughing grew worse. The sound of his labored breathing lingered around us. As the evening turned in to night I could see specks of blood appear on his lips. We knew this was a bad sing. All we could do was ease his suffering while time slipped by like grains of sand in a hourglass. Hours later he coughed up the first lump of lung tissue.
— Excerpt from the medical file of patient #43

Brain and spinal cord

The first symptoms of the infection spreading to the brain and spinal cord are headaches, neck pain, dizziness, nausea and fever. Within a few hours the patient starts to vomit and becomes sensitive to light and sounds. Chills are often experienced in this stage as the fever grows worse. It can take up to ten hours before the patient becomes agitated and starts showing aggressive behavior. At this stage it becomes necessary to restrain the patient to prevent harm to himself and others. This condition will only worsen within the next eight hours and ends with the patient slipping into a coma.


Sirens plague has always been an incurable disease. By the time the IMFU-team revealed their discovery to the public, ship's doctors had already tried any medicine to cure infections, fungal or otherwise. In the research facilities at Ippah scientists were working non-stop to find a cure. This proved to be a lot harder then anyone had anticipated. Almost a decade later scientists are still trying to find a cure. Some progress was made with the discovery of a mixture which can prevent the growth of the fungus. It is only effective however if people are treated before, or in the first hours after, the onset of the first symptoms. When mixed with steaming hot water this medicine can be inhaled. Even when there is no longer a chance of recovery it can still ease the suffering of patients with lung infection.


Sirens plague is a fast progressing disease and is in most cases fatal. Much depends on the area targeted by the fungus. Those who do survive recover completely.


Only one out of five infected are spared of brain and spinal cord infection. These patients have a small chance of surviving. The prognosis is still bleak though as only 15% - 20% of the patients survive.

Brain and spinal cord

With a mortality rate of 100% it is vital to prevent the fungus from spreading to the brain. This is no easy feat however as treatment has to start very early on. Preferably before the first symptoms are showing. Once the fungus has spread to the brain the patient dies within 40 - 48 hours.
The screaming became unbearable to hear. At times it sounded barely human.
— Excerpt from the logbook of the Sea Nymph


Sirens plague is endemic to deep-sea locations. Only people on board of ships who sail far from land are at risk of contracting this disease. It does not easily spread between humans, but it is best to take preventive measures when dealing with a patient with late stage sirens plague.


Face mask

During their two-year expedition the IMFU-team invented a face mask to prevent the inhalation of the spores. This mask proved to be so effective the IMFU staff thought it was only normal to mass produce these masks and sell them for a low price. This does not mean every seafarer wears such a mask. Some seem to believe it is a sign of weakness to wear one.

Poocky's Mixture

The formula for this mixture is a well guarded secret. It is being produced in the IMFU facilities and distributed worldwide. It is so easy to use that most ships carry a steady supply on board. Whenever someone believes they might have heard the siren whale's song, a big tub of water is heated up until boiling point. Not much later the entire ship's crew can be found hanging with their heads over a steaming bowl of water mixed with poocky's mixture. It is so effective that sirens plague has become a lot rarer in the last few years.


The Ippah Medical Foundation and University is the most prestigious medical facility in the world. [wip]

Cover image: Blue Blur by Blaque X


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Jun 8, 2019 17:35

This is a very good article. The way the disease is transmitted and its origins are creative and you managed to combine them with the myths and legends surrounding Sirens in a satisfying way.   What I would ask is why do your first and third quotes begin non-capitalized? Also, it would be better to add the people that provided the quotes or some circumstance in which they were uttered.   While the article in itself is fine you could add to it by use of the sidebar. Maybe give some info on the Hospital Ship or the IMFU r anything else you think might be of interest to any reader.   But really that is all cosmetic stuff. All in all its a well-made article. Definitely worth a like and I am sure you will continue to put out great stuff like this.

Jun 8, 2019 18:22 by Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)

Thank you so much. I didn't even notice the first and third quote starting non-capitalized. I'm so glad you brought that up. I will add authors for the quotes. I wasn't sure I should but now I know. I will definitely try to use the sidebar. Most of the week I'm on mobile so I can't see what it looks like on computer. Therefore I have been avoiding sidebars I must admit.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Jun 8, 2019 19:10

That explains it. Dont worry thats completely understandable. Besides its a good article with or without sidebar.

Dec 20, 2020 22:07 by R. Dylon Elder

Oooo definitely like the tie in to sirens. I love the depth of this. Like many of your articles, the details show thought and care behind each one.   I love the incentive if the facemask for example, and the details behind the symptoms. Definitely a bummer that when it gets too far its 100% lethal. Oof. Well done.

Dec 21, 2020 05:43 by Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)

Thank you! :)

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.