Lab Update: NERD Strain Identified! ‘Nerdicus contagium maritimus’
After extensive lab analysis (and thanks to Allie, who provided us blood and tissue samples), we have identified a peculiar sub-species of The NERD, which due to its unique symptoms we have decided to call Nerdicus contagium maritimus.
We had particular difficulty in isolating it, as it needed higher salt concentrations during reproduction – an adaptation which has given it the unusual ability be transmitted via seawater. It’s in seawater that N. contagium maritimus is found in its infectious, and thus most dangerous, form. This sub-species lives in human brains as adults, causing the NERD infection as we know it, but spends at least one larval form in the ocean. Before they have developed into their contagious form, however, the larvae are very salt-sensitive, and create protective cysts if removed from their high-salt envrionment – this is the first strain of The NERD that we have seen such behavior in.
Those infected with N. contagium maritimus find themselves uncontrollably attracted to the ocean and its inhabitants. They tend to spend inordinate amounts of time in places like aquariums and tend to prefer career paths like Oceanography and Marine Biology (like these two). The symptoms can range dramatically, from just appreciating marine life to total psychological breakdown, where one believes they are able to actually understand and speak for marine animals.
Other symptoms include OCD-like memorization of marine scientific names, a passion for scuba diving, or a deep need to live near water. We believe that the pathogen somehow emits a neurotransmitter which tricks the host into believing it is slightly dehydrated, but we’re not quite sure how it does this without causing the host to drown itself. It will be tough to fully understand its effects on the infected individual, as we have so far been unsuccessful in creating animal models, and infected people seem to believe that there’s nothing wrong with them and refuse to submit to sensitive neurological sampling.
Now that we’ve isolated the organism, we will be able look further into how its lifecycle works. We hope to better understand the factors which make it most contagious – are there certain times of day when the infectious larvae are most active? How do certain aquatic conditions affect its survival and transmission rates? There are still plenty of questions to be answered about this sub-species and its cousins.
In the meantime, if you know anyone who exhibits the above symptoms, please direct them to this page so they can learn for themselves about their disease and join our support community.