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In my world there is a rogue scientist who wants to wipe out at least 90% of humanity. He's has a sample of measles which are very contagious but he needs something new. Could he merge measles with Ebola or Rabies to create disease which is both airborne and very lethal? It's only one virus that can be possibly recombined with the others to achive the end to my story. Please for explanation of chimera- is it possible to do it ?

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  • $\begingroup$ Please clarify your question- what are you asking? $\endgroup$ – H Franklin May 12 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean clirify me question? $\endgroup$ – michael smith May 12 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree that this is a duplicate of "With current technology...." The question appears clear: can the measles virus be merged with the Ebola or Rabies viruses to create a lethal airborn virus? (E.G., Measles is airborne, but rarely lethal today. Ebola is often lethal, but not airborne.) "Chimera" is simply the name the OP is using to identify the hybrid virus. Out of curiosity, Michael, few people who read your story will have the medical knowledge to judge the validity of this combination. Therefore, why ask the question? It seems believable, whether it's technically possible or not. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 12 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ The real difficulty will be in diffusing the virus in an asymptomatic form widely enough to trigger a pandemic. Otherwise, wiping out 90% of humanity seems unlikely. $\endgroup$ – LSerni May 12 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ @LSerni points out the value of the "With current technology..." question, as its answers point out many issues with distributing a pathogen. Hollywood may enjoy destroy-all-humans stories, but the reality is that pathogens affect communities. It's really hard to affect 90% of humanity. Even 90% of people living in cities of 100K or larger would be a challenge. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 12 at 17:56
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Rhinovirus.

https://www.the-scientist.com/features/catching-the-cold-39858

Mixing measles and Ebola kind of smells like coating a nuclear bomb with nerve gas. Too much!

Better for your narrative is to mix it with something unexpected. For a story, I like the idea that a harmless pathogen should confer the ability to do great harm.

Here is how it would work.

  1. Rhinovirus has an arsenal of poorly understood tricks to evade the immune system, over and over. They are poorly understood because rhinovirus infections are generally so harmless.

  2. When correctly merged with measles, the rhinovirus can slip the measles past the immune system in someone who has been vaccinated.

  3. The deadly part is when the measles comes out. The immune system is faced with a sudden, overwhelming measles infection. The consequent overwhelming immune reaction leads to measles encephalitis. Thus the fatality rate is near 100% in people with immunity to measles, either via vaccination or prior infection. Nonimmune persons get a regular case of measles.


There are stray survivors, all of whom have low immunity for one reason or another: recent liver transplant, advanced HIV, extreme old age. But as a population, only the unvaccinated survive this scenario. Three-quarters of the way thru this story, a pissed off crew of Orthodox teenagers from Brooklyn show up at the villains lab and sort out his stuff.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 just for saying "coating a nuclear bomb with nerve gas." There's some TV writer out there waiting to win an Emmy with that line. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 12 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ Double bonus points if the measles symptoms only emerge after the cold has run its course. A highly contagious, highly adaptable, highly lethal disease with an incubation period disguised as an overwhelmingly common, benign disease? Ouch. +1 $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs May 13 at 11:14
  • $\begingroup$ "I told you so!" Every anti-vaxxer conspirationnist after that $\endgroup$ – Eth May 13 at 14:14
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Your logic is wrong

In reality, the more deadly a virus is, the less deadly it is because people will actively protect against it.

If a sudden new disease starts killing people, government groups like the CDC will enact quarantine and start working on a cure. People will avoid going out and wear masks and other protective clothing etc.

Someone dies coughing up blood and the whole hospital will be shut down, every person who came into contact will be isolated and tested. If it escapes, people will isolate themselves in bunkers if needs be until the disease dies out or is cured.

To wipe out most of the human population, the disease needs to be basically harmless thus doesn't warrant notice until it's too late.

To do this you start with a cold virus and have it make people sterile. People will be over the disease and may not notice they can't have kids anymore until years later.

This way the disease has years to spread and scientists may not even find out what caused the sterility in the first place.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is there any know virus that only causes sterility with no other symptoms? $\endgroup$ – Fred May 13 at 7:24
  • $\begingroup$ newscientist.com/article/… $\endgroup$ – Thorne May 13 at 9:30
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    $\begingroup$ "To wipe out most of the human population, the disease needs to be basically harmless thus doesn't warrant notice until it's too late." Plague Inc taught us well. The ninja infection is the easy way for the 100% kill. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai May 13 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly. Once the disease start killing, they start looking for a cure. If you can infect everyone first, they'll all die before a cure is found $\endgroup$ – Thorne May 13 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ Give a HIV-like virus the contagion of smallpox and ten years later, when the first symptoms start appearing, the entire planet is long since infected. HIV has about 4% survival rate naturally (no symptoms developed), so it's a good start. But we are getting good at surviving this particular one, so you'll need to tweak it some more. $\endgroup$ – Eth May 13 at 14:18

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