FINAL UPDATE: Thank you for your amazing points and answers, everyone! I mixed up all your ideas and posted the final answer as a community wiki.
So, I'm developing a bacterial infection where the bacterium is slightly magical. This is how the infection develops. Question below. I know it's a bit of a pain, but please REREAD this list before you comment or answer. I will update it to modify my question and info as questions are asked and comments are made. I'll try to highlight my edits to make them more visible. Thank you.
Bacteria enter through open wound and begin secreting digestive toxin. The body reacts by activating macrophages to absorb the bacteria and producing antibodies to bind to the antigens on the surface of the peptidoglycan cell wall/surface to mark them for destruction by phagocytosis. The bacterium responds by using its first magical defense: magically warping its antigens (surface receptor proteins) and by continuing to divide and secrete digestive toxin. The body responds by adapting to the new antigen and by raising a fever to denature the toxin. The bacteria (all at the same time, magically) switch their antigen over and over again as antibodies are produced.
They can only do this for ten different antigens, though. So once the tides turn in the body's favor, the bacteria switch their antigens one last time and then hide, either near the skin surface or in the reproductive system (to protect themselves from the fever so they can still secrete toxins.)
The toxin causes nausea and headaches at first. The body continues with a higher fever to denature the toxin. Then the bacteria, having multiplied, attach to the insides of blood vessels and manufacture huge quantities of toxin, absorbing sugar from the blood. The body releases a new batch of antibodies. The bacteria can't switch their antigens. Instead, they vanish their non-essential surface proteins entirely. Then they release restriction enzymes (DNA-cutting enzymes.) They release these in lipid vesicles, but they do something genius: they put one of each of the previous ten antigens on the surface of the enzyme package and then release the whole things into lymph vessels, which means the whole immune system and all immune cells will be at risk. Any of the antibodies that are in the blood mark the package for destruction via phagocytosis. But the package fuses with the cell membranes and then slowly (the restriction enzymes) mangle the cell's DNA, killing it over time. Because, though, it's a lipid membrane, it also fuses with B cells and helper T cells. The B cells cannot divide, since their DNA is mangled up. And the T cells die, unable to activate the B cells and macrophages.
The immune system is wrecked now, and the bacteria happily multiply and secrete their toxin, which causes splitting headaches, fever, dizziness, and vomiting. The bacteria start flooding blood vessels with the toxin, reducing the effectiveness of the kidneys (causing dark, dark urine.) Then the bacteria release antigens that bind twice: once to red blood cell receptors, and once that are like the bacterial surface antigens.The immune system begins an auto-immune response, destroying red blood cells, since the killer T cells were left intact. The neurotoxin and loss of oxygen kill the brain. This bacterium can essentially "vanish" from the immune system's senses and quickly kill off the body's defense.
MY QUESTION: This is all caused by magical mutation and some enzymes. My question is: how would a (1) a vaccine and (2) a cure develop for such a bacterium? Take into account elemental magic (fire, water, earth, air) and nature magic (influencing magical organisms takes huge power, but nature magic includes muscle, skin, and blood cell regeneration, analysis of magical organisms, and toxin/poison resistance).
Approximately 4% of the population can access elemental magic and 1% can access nature magic. Include both types into the vaccine and cure, using medium-light power per dose. The vaccine and cure should be
- non-conventional (antibiotics should only be one component)
- easy and inexpensive to manufacture (including the amount of magic required)
- 90% effective
Assume geneticists have analyzed the protein-coding genes that code for
- the restriction enzyme
- the toxin
- the 10 different antigens.
Update: These are the magic systems
Elemental: The usual manipulation of fire (also usable for any type of temperature manipulation) water (ice, water, water vapor) earth (also binding and a little bone/muscle regeneration type of healing) air (wind and latent air.) Also combos: water+fire makes lightning, water+earth=tissue regeneration, water+air+earth=blood magic (focusing mainly on control) (oxygen, iron, plasma) and different crafts. Using a single element is easy, using two is harder, three is difficult, four is very, very complex. Most mages specialize in 2 elements.
Nature: Essentialy witches. Good grasp of how poisons work, tissue regeneration-style healing magic. A little influence over living organisms; more influence (with more snags) over magical ones. Magical ones are more in tune with these nature witches, however, they are more aware and much more able to resist. This includes everything from primates to germs. Nature witches, however, are good at finding out exactly what magical organisms do (not how. But this is how the disease researchers found out about this bacterium anyway. A good witch might be able to not only look at the amino acid sequence for a toxin but also how it's built.)--
There are limitations here: use your common sense. With a low number like this, using "handwavium" is unreasonable; the magic should take a minor supporting role in the vaccine. And short-term vaccines for bacteria are possible, using surface antibody/antigen solutions. The problem here is the bacteria instantaneously change and/or vanish their antigens, making them immune to normal antibodies, and have an attack system that blocks the immune system, much like HIV/AIDS would. It's okay if an antibiotic is used, but it should only make up a part of the cure/vaccine.
This is a bacterial infection, not a viral one. The bacteria can reproduce on their own, they secrete toxins, have double-stranded DNA, they respond to their environment, they evolve naturally. They are composed of cells and have regular metabolisms. They are simply unique in their defense against the immune system.The issue is that after the ten switches, the bacteria vanish their antigens completely. I was hoping for a vaccine that would stop this process somehow. I have no idea how a cure would work.