Babel Plague
Babel
Image from Anders Sandberg
Human viral infection of artificial origin, likely developed as a bioweapon during the 300's A.T. (Interplanetary Age).

The virus is based on the herpes simplex virus and similarly infective. In its latent phase it spreads and hides in nerve ganglia. In its active phase it causes localized lesions in the language centres of the brain, especially Wernicke's area. The result is a profound aphasia where victims cannot comprehend language and speak semantically empty "word salad". Treatment is through gene audit (latent) or implantation of a linguistic prosthesis (active phase).

The Babel plague first became epidemic during the 958 Penglai outbreak; since then it has reappeared several times on undeveloped worlds. In 2654 it caused the Qjellto Disaster, where a pandemic destroyed the colony on Qjellto, so far the most devastating outbreak of the virus. A modified form of the virus caused a breakdown of society on Anomie during the ComPemp era.

Babel virus variants have been used as an incapacitation weapon in the Perseus Rift conflicts, and a nanotechnological variant, Babel II, was used during the Rojmaneo war and recent Disarchy conflicts.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 08 October 2001.