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Tamcarn Disease

Tamcarn (Cemkarjy: /t'aɱʟ̥aʀn/, lit. "spike blood") Disease, also known under names such as Blood Spike Disease or Bursting Thorn Disease, is a rare disease affecting multiple species first discovered on a biosphere survey ship and identified by the Yytsuuri physician Conze Tlujov. It is caused by an organism which bears some similarities to slime molds on earth.

Transmission & Vectors

The primary transmission vector is through spores created by the final stages of the disease. However, transmission directly through blood, and in some species sexual transmission has also been observed.

Causes

Tamcarn disease is caused by an amoeba-like organism which multiplies in the host's blood, known as the Tamcarn parasite. The parasite reproduces both asexually and sexually, until reaching a certain critical mass. After the critical mass is reached, the organisms gather to form clumps, in which cell specialization begins to form spikes which serve to transport spores outside the host.   The exact origin of the parasite is still unclear, as it was first discovered on an EDF ship performing biological surveys but could not be confirmed on any of the planets which were surveyed in that mission.

Symptoms

Initial symptoms present similarly to common bacterial or viral infections. In some cases, these initial symptoms are mild enough for the infection to go unnoticed. Depending on species, this initial phase can last for extended periods, especially in cases where the symptoms are mild.   If the disease is not detected and treated during the initial phase, the second phase begins when the critical mass of parasite cells is reached and they begin to form clumps, which cause severe pain, necrosis, coma, or even death. The second phase typically lasts several hours, but may be as short as a few minutes in some cases. Over 95% of patients are either unconscious or dead at the end of the second phase.   Finally, The clumps of parasite cells begin to form spikes which penetrate the body of the patient from the inside and split open to release spores as they reach the open air, leading to the gruesome end the disease is named after. No patient has been recorded to survive the final phase.

Treatment

As the Tamcarn parasite is sensitive to blood chemistry, in the first phase it can typically be treated by fairly simple medicine, in some species even as simple as nutritional supplements. If detected early enough for this approach, treatment has a near 100% success rate and no significant side effects.   If the disease is not detected early enough and advances to the second stage before treatment becomes effective, specialized medicine which counteracts the chemical signals used by the parasite can be used to halt the progression of the disease temporarily, however at this stage there often already is significant damage to the patient's body.

Epidemiology

As the disease is spread through spores which may live for extended periods outside a host, it has proven very difficult to eradicate. Though cases are rare and usually detected early enough for treatment, in regions with a lower standard of living or resistance to treatment for cultural reasons, outbreaks occasionally occur. Spores created by these outbreaks are often not fully eliminated and are carried away by various means, causing more outbreaks much later.   Another cause of outbreaks are latent carriers, which may get infected near an outbreak but not show any symptoms for extended periods. As the disease is somewhat hard to detect and not commonly tested for due to its rarity, these carriers may spread the disease over interstellar distances before it manifests.
Type
Parasitic
Origin
Natural
Rarity
Rare

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Cover image: by Zhuriel

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