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The Captain Trips Virus

The ghastly and inevitable end brought by Captain Trips.

Captain Trips is a nickname for the constantly-shifting antigen virus that exterminates 99.4% of the human population in The Stand.

Developed under the codename Project Blue by a biological weapon's laboratory located beneath California's Mojave Desert, it is also known as Blue virus (Blue Virus), A-prime, A6, the rales, superflu, choking sickness, and tube neck.

The virus is set loose on the population when Charlie Campion, who was working in the base that developed it, noticed that the virus had been released in the base and managed to escape with his wife and daughter, but not before being infected with it himself. He carried the virus all the way to Arnette, Texas, before dying, thus setting in motion the events of the novel.

Description & Symptoms

Captain Trips is an extremely deadly virus, able to be transmitted as easily as the common flu it is based on, with far more lethal results. It has a communicability rate of 99.4%, meaning that all but a tiny few of humans can catch it. The virus starts out like a common cold, causing weariness, nasal congestion and sneezing, and most people who catch it think that a common cold is all they have.

The superflu virus is highly adaptable, shifting and changing constantly, making medicines useless against it. At best, medicine only briefly holds off the inevitable. No vaccine was ever developed for it, before or after its escape from the lab where it was created, as its constantly-changing nature made a vaccine impossible to create. The fact that it was designed as a biological weapon is another reason for the lack of a cure; it was supposed to be unstoppable, as anything less would have limited its ability to kill swiftly and efficiently.

As it progresses, Captain Trips causes increasingly-worse fever, headaches, crippling physical pain, swelling, and delirium. Victims slip in and out of consciousness, and begin thinking they are in other places, other times in their lives. Sometimes, when nearing death, victims will actually calm down and return to clear, level-headed thinking for a short time. In all cases, however, once someone has caught Captain Trips, they are dead- it's just a question of how long it will take for them to die.

Susceptibility

  • Humans
  • Dogs
  • Domestic guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus)
  • Horses
  • Monkeys

Immunity

It is unknown how a given human or animal can be immune to the superflu, but based on the United States Military's own knowledge of the virus (from data on it in the files of Project Blue), 0.6% of the human race was immune to it. Most likely, immunity is genetic, and would be that way for the animals capable of catching the virus as well.

Colonel Richard Deitz, operating in Atlanta, then in Vermont after the Plague Center in Atlanta was compromised, led the effort to find a cure for the virus. Due to the fact that "Captain Trips" shifts and changes at an extremely rapid pace, not one attempted vaccine worked. Men and women with a lifetime of experience in medicine were mystified at Stuart Redman's survival, especially after they injected him with the superflu under the guise of administering a sedative. Redman's immune system swiftly isolated and killed the virus, but with no visible sign of how.

Human civilization collapsed entirely within one month of the virus' outbreak, and no cure or means of giving others immunity to the superflu was ever developed.

Aftermath

Captain Trips, a man-made virus created by the United States Military on taxpayer dollars, killed all but a handful of the humans, dogs, guinea pigs, horses, and monkeys on Earth by July 4 of 1980/1985/1990/1994 (depending on the exact version or adaptation of the story). Riots, suicides, accidents and injuries (many of which were made fatal by a total absence of functioning hospitals and available living medical personnel), and murders cut the number of survivors even further. The animal species able to catch Captain Trips are implied to be doomed, left without a sustainable population, and humans have an uncertain future at best. While Frannie Goldsmith's baby was able to fight off the superflu, another woman in Boulder had previously given birth to twins, and both of them had caught the superflu and died.

Millions of dead bodies were left in the wake of Captain Trips, most killed by the virus, others from different causes. In the few areas where survivors congregated, like Las Vegas, Nevada and Boulder, Colorado in the former United States, the decaying remains were collected and buried in mass graves. Everywhere else, the bodies were left in the hospitals, houses, cars, and on the streets where they had died. With the human population virtually wiped out, nearly all of the old world's settlements, vehicles, structures and buildings were abandoned, left to be reclaimed by the elements.

Appearances

Gallery

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