Blue Lung
Blue lung
Image from Steve Bowers

Blue Lung is a disease that is caused when semi-functional nanotech infests the victim's lung tissue. The earliest known cases occurred when bionano first saw widespread use, and the infection rate peaked during the Technocalypse. By 7016 a.t. reports of Blue Lung had become exceedingly rare; the vast majority of new cases occur in the wake of nanoweapon attacks. The condition was named after blue goo because components of this kind of nanoagent were the earliest known vectors.

Nanotool components have limited useful lives. When nanites or foglets no longer function properly their successors usually break them down for raw materials. Some varieties are designed to be biodegradable. But these processes sometimes fail or are interrupted. Utility fogs (the most common vector) or surface bound nanites can become airborne when they no longer function properly and can be inhaled by a passing biont. If the agents retain some residual activity they can draw on the host body's resources to keep themselves active. This parasitic attachment reduces the victim's lung capacity. Even the mildest case of Blue Lung gets worse with repeated exposure to the nanoagent. The disease is far more virulent if the agents still have, or somehow regain, the ability to replicate.

Blue Lung is not usually fatal unless a self-replicating variety is left untreated, but it can be crippling. Application of medical nanites is the most effective treatment, provided that the therapeutic agents are sufficiently advanced in relation to the disease agents. There are also confirmed cases of bionano-based Blue Lung being successfully treated with antibiotics. In the most severe cases it is often simpler to write the infected body off as a loss and transfer the patient's mind into a new one... assuming, of course, that the technology to do so is available.
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Development Notes
Text by Michael Walton
Initially published on 15 September 2009.