Note - Rumors of the K17 Vampire Virus and this article have been floating around the net for a considerable time now. The K17 tale's origin is probably linked to a 2001 film called Reign In Darkness in which it's featured as an integral part of the plot. There also seem to be a few references to K17 that predate the movie so a possible alternate explanation is that it was an urban legend which inspired the writing of the movie. The K17 Vampire Virus may be science fiction but if so, its good science fiction - plausible enough that many vampire researchers feel it must at least be looked into, therefore it's included here.
The going theory is vampires are just suffers of a disease not unlike AIDS. I can find the site and copy the information for you here if you'd like...But that is under scientific investigaton. Or if you'd like to look it up the disease is labeled K-17. Although information is hard to come by, because what information has leaked out has been mostly smuggled out of labratories and such.
Vampirism as an infectious virus.
I should warn you that more than half of this information was not obtained entirely legally. If you want to show it to other people, well
and good, but there may be comebacks in the long-term (more probably legal than physical - some of this is Ďprivilegedí corporate information). Iíll leave that to be your own decision.
Some people believe that the virus is currently being researched by commercial labs, going under the romantic name of RV K-17.
K-17 shares a number of traits with HIV. Both are retroviruses and both are extremely vulnerable to changes in blood pH and environment. HIV incubates in the host for an exceptionally long time, a necessity since it will eventually kill the host and the vectors are not common enough to ensure its spread in a shorter time. K-17 operates in a different manner. Almost as soon as
infection occurs K-17 spreads throughout the host body, having an immediate effect. Various parts of the body are attacked and
between 20 and 30 per cent of the virus DNA is transcribed into the hostís cells. About 90% of this transcription codes for intron
structures, the rest being spread out evenly along the helix. The symptoms of K-17 infection are not always the same. If a host is
not compatible (there is speculation that most Asian and Afro-Caribbean peoples are not susceptible - see below) then the virus
will either survive in the bloodstream in diminished numbers (while still being contagious) or disappear completely,attacked by the
bodyís immune system. In compatible hosts the spread of the disease is more uniform. Within the first four days of infection the virus
will breed and spread within the host, leaving RNA-based infectious viruses in almost every bodily fluid.. The individual effects are most
easily dealt with by category:
The Body: K-17 exhibits traits unlike any other known virus once established. The most dramatic effect is on the immune system. The virus causes increased activity from white cells, increasing their Ďkillí sensitivity. This causes some parts of the hosts own
body to suffer temporary attack. During this period the host will suffer vomiting and, occasionally, violent fits. At this point K-17
mutates to form a second, benign, virus. Cells in the bone marrow are attacked and are caused to inject a virus composed of a
complete copy of the hostís DNA inside a modified K-17 protein shell. It is this action which finally silences the hostís immune
system attack on the virus since K-17 type protein shells are now identified as belonging to the host.This second virus is extremely
infectious, but with a slight difference. The changes in the K-17 protein shell make it impossible for this virus to survive outside of the
host body, so it cannot be passed to another organism. It is also not always fatal to infected cells. Normal viral function occurs (virus
attacks host cell. Virus penetrates host cell and injects its own DNA inside the cell wall. Protein substitution forces the host cell to burst, spraying out multiple copies of the original virus), but the protein substitution does not take place. Thus the host cells are re-infected with their own DNA. About one infection in three hundred results in the manufacture of new viral cells, keeping a roughly constant level of infection in the bloodstream. This process results in the hostís DNA being set in stone at the point of infection. Ageing has been linked to errors in DNA transcription when new cells are created. In a host infected with K-17 these errors will be Ďrepairedí by the benign virus.
It seems likely that any longevity effects stem from this process. Negative effects from the restructuring of the immune system include the occasional mis-identification of the hostís own cells. This is most likely to occur when skin cells contain melanin from exposure to ultra-violet light (this may be an explanation to the viruses non-contagion to Afro-Caribbean races. A non-selective strain would kill an Afro-Caribbean host, along with itself, in a couple of days. This would allow a strain which would only use Afro- Caribbean people as carriers to evolve as the more successful organism). The slight modification of cell chemistry is enough for the newly paranoid immune system to kill them. Sufficient exposure to sunlight would cause destruction of the hostís skin by their own immune system. The skin would die and slough off, resulting in massive blood loss, blood poisoning by non-sterile contact and, rapidly, death.
The Brain: This is where some of the most dramatic changes take place. The introduction of K-17 DNA in to the host makeup
produces a number of effects. Blood flow to various areas of the brain is increased and neurotransmitter production is
stimulated.The areas most affected are the Amyglada and the Visual Cortex (the areas around the brain stem and outer-back of
the brain). Acetocoline production is stimulated and a localised attack on brain-cell proteins on the cortex is stimulated.The
Amyglada is the most primitive part of the brain, linked mainly with the powerful fight-or-flight reflex. The host will suffer increased aggression and reactions, particularly to physically threatening situations.
Arousal, either combative or sexual, will have a greater effect. It can also cause personality changes and mood swings since overriding the more powerful instincts become harder.The changes to the Visual Cortex cause vision to become more acute. Processing of images proceeds faster. Night vision is enhanced within certain parameters. The eyes themselves undergo no change, but a large part of human low light sight deficiency is due to the time it takes the brain to process darkened images (this has been exploited to
produce 3D effects on TV with only the use of glasses with one darkened lens. As long as the camera moves in the right direction processing of the image from the shaded eye takes a fraction longer and the forebrain it presented with two images out of step with one another - the objects seen from two different viewpoints, hence 3D).The information collected by the eyes is unchanged, but it is processed better.The attack on cells on the cortex causes the formation of an engram on the upper cortex stretching across both sides of the brain. This attack is a side-effect of the modifications to the hostís immune systems. The result is a paraphilic attraction to blood (the instance of paraphilia has been linked to changes in the brain. Well documented cases include a man who became aroused by
paper-clips while suffering from a brain tumour. Removal of the tumour ended this.). This attraction is entirely sexual and is not linked to any physical craving in the host, though the anaemia caused by immune system restructuring has led to misunderstandings. The formation of this engram may also cause other paraphilia which have been linked to brain structure dysfunction (Necrophilia has been suggested as a common side-effect due to the Vampire/Graveyard legends - there is no evidence for this. What is more likely is that formation of the engram could cause any number of minor or major paraphilic attractions and fetishes, depending on its severity).
Looser Rumours: Some people believe that the virus also stimulates the Pineal gland as well as producers of other
neurotransmitters. They have suggested that this could lead to increased psychic abilities. I, personally, discount this. I have seen no
suggestion in anything I have read or stolen that K-17 affects the Pineal gland. Besides, the connection between the Pineal gland and psychic ability is an assumed one carried over from the eighteenth century when it was found to be in a position similar to that of the supposed Ďthird eyeí.
It has been suggested that K-17 stimulates the Adrenal gland, giving increased strength. Again, there is no evidence for this. If the Adrenal was constantly stimulated the host would be constantly edgy and hyper. Stimulation of the adrenal glad takes place more readily in hosts due tothe stimulation of the Amyglada, but nothing even begins to back up a case for constant stimulation, even assuming the human body could stand the punishment. I have heard that the military are researching K-17. Personally, I doubt this.
Other: RV K-17 was first isolated in South Africa by the University of Cape Town in 1962, found by accident in a medical study into viral gastroenteritis. The large scale testing revealed a small number of black subjects infected with a benign virus which had
not been seen before. Since all of the subjects came from the slum townships it was written off as a degenerative hantavirus spread by
rodents. Research did not continue. It was named virus K-17 and forgotten about. By sometime around 1985 K-17 was being researched by the Glaxo Wellcome corporation (to name but one). Now known as RV K-17 research had begun when the records from the 1962 gastroenteritis studies were reviewed, revealing the existence of an apparently benign contagious virus. It was hoped that research into the function of benign retroviruses could give some clue pointing towards a cure for AIDS. By 1988 most information regarding K-17 was removed from the public domain. The University of Cape Town no longer makes the results of the 1962 study
available, citing it as out of date information and directing the inquirer to the later studies done in the US. Current official status of RV K-17 is still that it is a mildly contagious benign strain of degenerate hantavirus, originating in South Africa.