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The Life and Mind of DamnBlackHeart
This is to help me stay actively writing. So expect to see rants, tips on writing, thoughts on subjects, me complaining of boredom, reviews, anime, movies, video games, conventions, tv shows and whatever life throws at me.
Left 4 Dead - The Green Flu
This is just my thoughts on the virus. I want to get a better understanding of it for future reference when I write a L4D story. After all, it means less work for me to figure out and to look up.

The things I need to know about the Green Flu is how it works. How people become infected, how long it takes to turn and if there's a way to prevent it from turning someone. As well as, predict where it might have originated. This will contain spoilers, so don't read this if you don't know anything about L4D and L4D2.

What we know is that in L4D, the Green Flu, is a rabies-like pathogen and it causes increased aggression and the loss of many higher brain functions within its victim. The origins of the virus is unclear, but there have been multiple sources that state that the virus is a mutated strain of the rabies virus (and that it started and spread through livestock -- but it's only implied).

For all we know, the CEDA may not know that much about the virus and assume it came from livestock. So it would makes sense for them to test the animals for rabies. This is generally done by testing brain tissue which would, of course, kill the animal. With the extend of the infection the military probably killed all livestock as a precaution and/or possibly performed the tests to map where the virus had started. We can not say for certain that the infection started with livestock, just that they were killed and tested as a precaution or as a way to figure out where it all began. The carcass of livestock were seen in The Barns level of Dark Carnival and Blood Harvest campaign and most believe that if they were truly infected, then they would have been burned, not left out in the open. So this could mean that were killed as a precaution.

Anyway, a great way to possibly understand the fictional virus is to look up the real one. "The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.

The first symptoms of rabies are very similar to those of the flu including general weakness or discomfort, fever, or headache. These symptoms may even last for days." [1] When the outbreak started, the CEDA covered it up by saying that the Green Flu was a form of influenza to avoid mass panic. That piece information confirms that the Green Flu's symptoms starts off very similar to a flu.

Once a person begins to exhibit signs of rabies, survival is rare. To date less than 10 documented cases of human survival from clinical rabies have been reported and only two have not had a history of pre- or post exposure prophylaxis (which means taking anti-HIV medications to reduce their risk of becoming infected or as soon as possible after you may have been exposed to HIV to try to reduce the chance of becoming HIV positive).

So now we know that the Green Flu starts off similar to a flu, which is how the CEDA was able to convince people that it wasn't anything serious. But once a person is infected there isn't any way to save them, unless of course they are a carrier or immune to the virus.

Carriers are are asymptomatic survivors that look perfectly healthy but "carry" the virus in their system. Therefore, a carrier can unintentionally transmit the virus to normal uninfected individuals which makes carriers a threat to public safety. The question is, how does the virus spread by a carrier?

Carriers are normal healthy-looking individuals, it's highly unlikely that a carrier was biting others and transmitting the virus. So other routes of transmission include saliva, blood, mucus (from sneezing/coughing), and airborne. While some graffiti state that the virus is not airborne, the fact that the CEDA agents were wearing highly protective hazmat suits suggest otherwise. Such suits are primarily designed to prevent airborne transmission and the fact that CEDA was even using such precautions correctly asserts that the existence of an airborne strain remains unconfirmed. At the same time, there is no confirmed route of disease transmission. In The Sacrifice comic it is revealed that the virus mutates continually, including going from being airborne to only being transmitted by contact.

However, it is worth noting that any viral organisms can survive on surfaces for a number of days should an Infected individual touch something with their hands. Everything from door handles to cooking utensils are fair game for the bug to live upon, and will be transferred to anyone who would come into contact with it afterwards. It is for this reason that even in the administration areas of hospitals people are required to have hand sterilization dispensers for anyone who has been handling patient records, which are a prime source of infectious contact from patients and the doctors who treat them. All that is needed after that is for their hands to come in contact with food, their mouth, their eyes or any open wound. There are also CEDA posters that say "Clean Hands Save Lives!" around the places of quarantine which supports this theory.

As for immune survivors, they have a natural immunity from the virus, but they could easily be carriers who may thus falsely believe themselves to be immune. In The Sacrifice comic it presents the hypothesis that all survivors are carriers of the infection ― and as such are a positive danger to any uninfected humans they encounter. This happens to be the case with Zoey, Bill, Francis and Louis -- they were actually carriers and they've been inadvertently transmitting the disease throughout Philadelphia.

Anyway, the Green Flu causes two types of infected, the common and the special. All victims of the virus start off as common infected, according to the scene with Bill. He's seen discovering a viscous, bright green substance in or on a dead (and presumably Infected) body. He mentions that he's never seen anything like it before, but it doesn't seem to hurt him in any immediate way. This is most likely Boomer bile (a Boomer corpse is seen in the background if observed closely enough). The substance was said to reek, and Bill claims that the liquid was a sign that the Infected were "changing".

While this provides no definitive explanation, it may imply that the Infected are still in the process of mutating, and that all the changes the virus will cause to its host is as of yet unknown. This could mean that the special infected were just starting to develop and this was the survivors first encounter with one. This is backed up by how Zoey approaches what she assumes is a survivor crying, when it's actually a Witch.

As for how long it takes a person to change, it is unpredictable. On the wall of a safe room, many survivors wrote how long it took for someone to turn. One wrote that they had seen someone turn in four days, and more people came along to "correct" each other until the last person wrote that they saw someone turn in 5 minutes. It's possible that the time it takes varies from person to person, as the Church Guy claims to have been bitten an hour before the Survivors make it to his safe room.

Further to point, in The Sacrifice comic, Zoey's mother turned mere minutes, if not seconds, after being bitten. However, this may mean that each strain of the virus does vary in its time to completely turn Infected. If so, then the reason for varied times is probably the result of mutation of the virus. It may also be dependent on the immune system of the host, as the Survivors prove that it is possible to be completely immune to the virus. Mutations, however, seem to take hold almost immediately, as Church Guy was bitten an hour prior. Nearing the end of said hour, he manifested mutations of a Special Infected. It is also possible that, since we never see Church Guy as a human, he had already begun undergoing most of the mutations but his questionable sanity and apparent denial prevented him from noticing them (or allowed him to disregard them) until the infection finally affected his mind.

This paints a clear picture of how the outbreak might have began. People started getting sick and assume that it was only a cold or a flu, but when more symptoms appeared they became concerned. So they went to their doctors or had to be taken to the hospital when their sickness got worst. Once the doctors took tests, they called the CEDA and every sick patient was quarantine (in Mercy Hospital which seems to be ground zero). When CEDA got involved they informed the public on ways to prevent the spread of infection. However, it also seems this is the day that infected start appearing on the streets of Philadelphia and began to overrun the city.

After a couple of days, most of Pennsylvania is overrun, and the infected start mutating into the Special Infected and the flu starts heading west and south. It is assumed that the military bombs several airports to slow down the spread of the infection. As well as, raised and/or destroy some of the bridges to keep the infected contained within the cities and towns.

Eventually, the infection reaches Georgia, where Rayford and Savannah are located. This is also assumed to be the day such mutations as the Charger, Jockey, and Spitter start appearing in the southern states. Just remember that this all happens before October 8, 2009 (according to the Midnight Riders tour list and posts on their website, the events of Dark Carnival are probably set around this time) -- the Infection reaches Griffin, Georgia so the Midnight Riders have to cancel a concert and are picked up by a helicopter.

Somewhere around this time the military took over all of CEDA's outposts and operations due to several failures of containing the infection. And it's some time after that, New Orleans is evacuated because of the infected population, and Veterans Memorial Bridge is bombed to slow down the infection.

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