The Eyeling Plague was a contageous infection which afflicted the entire Awakened World to varying degrees in a pandemic which raged between 3150 AF and 3165 AF. Patient zero was traced to the Helsporan Wheel in 3150 AF. Before that, the virus itself almost certainly originated off world. The last known case was diagnosed at Sonnring in 3165 AF. The Eyeling Plague was particularly severe in Anoomenon where it spread unchecked for seven years between 3155 AF and 3162 AF. It is the most dangerous new disease encountered by humanity since the Listlessness Plague which had afflicted the Earth in the 27th century and although its long term effects were less widespread and pernicious than that earlier and thankfully eradicated condition, it has left a lasting mark on the population.
Transmission & Vectors
The plague is essentially contageous but there is some limited airborne transmission and it can be picked up through infected meat, unless the contaminated carcass has been cooked at high temperatures. Unfortunately, the act of preparing the food is more than likely to infect an unsuspecting cook, even before they can neutralise the virus.
It is thought that it takes between three and five days from the initial infection before a patient first experiences any symptoms. A case of the Eyeling plague begins with a sensation of dry itchy eyes, which are not relieved by rubbing (which in fact only serves to spread the infection). This stage of the disease lasts for about five days before it progresses to headaches, blurred vision and vomitting. Whilst many individuals may recover from this point, a minority of about ten percent will continue to weaken and ultimately die. In the last stage of the disease, bleeding though the eyes is common, leading to the so called "red tears". It is very rare (although not totally unhead of) for anyone to survive the red tears.
Despite the best efforts of medical scientists throughout the world, there was never a vaccine developed which was able to counter the spread of the disease. The best that can be done is to ameleorate the symptoms and aid the body's own natural defences. Poltices of golden-eye, honey and hot saline water provide some relief for the immediate symptoms, whilst vitamins B6, C and Zinc supplements, taken as tablets can help to strengthen the innate immune response.
The Eyeling plague is a particularly nasty infection with many undesirable outcomes. Natural mortality is typically at the ten percent level, but in some parts of the world (and Anoomenon was one of these) higher rates up to forty percent were observed. It is not known why the severity of the condition proved to be more serious in some areas than others, although it is thought that it may be due to cofactors in the local diet (fish being suspected). Those who do recover from the disease may find that their sight is permanently affected, even to blindness. Since the available treatments are not especially effective, recovery largely depends on the luck of the genetic lottery. The only hopeful thought is that due to the widespread nature of the pandemic, it is likely that virtually all susceptable individuals and been already perished and the remainder of the population now has an enhanced immune resistance. We should therefore not expect to see a recurrance of the plague on this level ever again, although no doubt there may be occasional low level outbreaks.
Hosts & Carriers
The Eyeling Plague was carried by many species of birds. Infected birds would often flock together in unnatural ways, wheeling round the sky and uttering chilling calls of distress, sometimes travelling for miles before they dropped dead. Poultry was susceptable and provided a common mechanism for cross species infection into humans.