This disease was a retrovirus that resided in the victim's liver, which made it extraordinarily hard to locate and treat. The virus had a ~70% infection rate with an expected mortality of 43% with many additional casualties due to associated infections, infrastructure breakdown, general riots, and the like.
The virus was airborne and entered the body via the mucus membranes and infected the liver, it produced large quantities of a protein that converted the body's own hormones into the Compound X similar to an anabolic steroid which caused striking mental and physical symptoms. The liver could not effectively break down the Compound X, nor could it be removed from the bloodstream, since natural hormones were depleted.
The symptoms could be categorized in two phases:
- The symptoms at first: slight weight loss and hypertension, yellowing of the eyes and skin, breakouts of acne and skin lesions, current of unruliness, distractibility, and undeniable paranoia that led to increased aggressive behavior.
- The next phase of the infection: severe and sudden weight loss, debilitating diarrhea, muscle weakness, tendon ruptures leading to many crippling injuries among the survivors, intensely high fevers that places most victims in a deep coma, then liver shutdowns that led to death. In some cases thyrotoxic crisis caused the body to simply shut down due to hormonal imbalances
Use During Butlerian JihadEdit
The Scourge was first deployed during the last stages of the Butlerian Jihad (108 BG). Mulitple batches of torpedo-like canisters carried the virus toward the league worlds, first arriving on the planet Parmentier while governed by Rikov Butler. After the virus took hold, Butler dispatched several quick ships to Salusa Secundus to warn them of the virus. As a result, the Salusan defences were able to destroy incoming canisters in orbit and launch a program to warn the rest of the League of Nobles.
Emergency measures were taken, including the annexation of Arrakis into the League of Nobles to accelerate the harvest of melange and resulted in the spice rush: Raquella Berto-Anirul, along with her associates, had discovered that melange slowed down the effects of the virus, and even cured them in some circumstances.
The virus eventually expended itself, taking approximately half of the League population with it. By 88 BG, 20 years after the suppression of the virus, the League Worlds had barely 1/3 of their former populations. Many noble lines had been wiped out, and new centers of power began to emerge as ambitious survivors gathered their own empires, declaring themselves a fresh branch of the noble tree and claiming rights and privileges.
Families were encouraged to have many children, but a sufficient workforce to sustain previous levels of agriculture and industry did not exist. Everyone had to work twice as hard as before.
Resurgence on RossakEdit
After the virus had been known to be obliterated, a mutated strain of it appeared on Rossak, the home of the Sorceresses. Raquella Berto-Anirul went there to attempt to cure the population of the virus, and find out why it mutated. This strain didn't respond to the use of melange, and Raquella scrambled for a cure. She made contact with the Misborn, Rossakian children with birth defects who had been abandoned in the jungle. From them she obtained cenote water and was able to use that, along with a poison from Ticia Cenva, to synthesize an antidote using her own internal chemistry. She administered that antidote, and the mutation was destroyed.
Use Against the Honored Matres and Old EmpireEdit
15,000 years later, after the Scattering, the Honored Matres were being destroyed by an Outside Enemy. The Honored Matres tortured Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers to get the secret of controlling their internal body chemistry. It is postulated that the reason the Honored Matres wanted this information was to fight off a new and improved scourge that Omnius (also known as the Outside Enemy) loosed upon them.
When Omnius decided to unleash his massive million-starship Armada against humanity, he sent probes containing the Scourge first, against the human worlds, to kill off a majority of their population. The first worlds attacked, Duvalle, Ronto, and Pital, saw most of human-kind exterminated on the planets due to the disease, with a small fraction of refugees only barely able to escape quaratine. Then Omnius sent the Armada in afterwards to genocidally kill mankind who had survived. This pattern continued towards the heart and origin of humanity over the course of the next five years, as the Thinking Machines advanced towards Chapterhouse and Junction.