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How believable is a touch or fluid vectored bacteria which is so dependent on its host that the remains of a terminated victim become non-contageous within minutes of the host's death?

I'm postulating an infector which consumes its host so quickly that infected blood samples contain no living infectors within an hour of the sample being taken. If such a thing is possible, how could such a disease avoid burning through its host's energy reserves so quickly that it doesn't have time to infect others?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think the title is asking the same question as the body. I have suggested an edit but feel free to reject it. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Jul 10 '16 at 19:57
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Is there any evolutionary benefit to becoming non infectious minutes after inducing death?

Is this a naturally occurring disease or an engineered disease?

So lets try this: The pathogen, in this case a yeast, infects the hosts blood. The yeast, as part of its normal metabolism, produces a protein that is sheds and which circulates in the blood stream. We will call this protein Cryptomamillian Coagulating Factor 1 (CCF-1). As CCF-1 circulates in the blood, the kidneys and liver try to flush it. However, over the course of some time period suitable for your plot, the kidneys and liver begin to fail, with jaundice, shortness of breath, etc. being the symptoms. Once liver and kidney failure begin, the CCF-1 protein begins to build rapidly in the blood stream. Shortly there after, concentration of the CCF-1 protein reaches a point where a sudden and complete polymerization of the free protein occurs; essentially, over the course of a few seconds, all the blood in vessels and tissue converts to a semi-solid gel. This gel encases the yeast circulating in the body, rendering it harmless. The body can be handled with out much / any risk of infection. Only removing the gelatin blood, and grinding it up to release the yeast again would be sufficient to infect again. And it could be that the the yeast itself is rendered non-viable immediately when caught-up in the flash polymerization. Your choice.

If this is a natural item, perhaps it is occurring now because this was a yeast naturally occurring in a cold area, that has warmed due to climate change. Migratory birds new to the area due to warmer temps are the vector for the yeast to move into civilization.

Hopefully, you find something you can work with in this nugget.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 Spectacular Answer! You have provided a solution for exactly what the current version of the question was asking, and even brought up the major plot point, that my desired behavior is contrary to the survival needs of the pathogen. Well done. I will probably figure out a way to use what you have written in my writing. Its only failing is that it doesn't answer the original question which got lost when I edited the question's title in response to some early comments. Still, you have been very helpful. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Jul 11 '16 at 5:24
  • $\begingroup$ I am reminded of something I read about a medical scandal. There is a compound which can be used in certain circumstances to knit badly broken bones back together. The instructions said that it must never be used on spinal injuries. Some doctor did, and too much leaked into the patients bloodstream, and suddenly the unfortunate patients entire blood supply coagulated. The doctor was slow to learn and quick to cover up. Anyway, sudden fatal coagulation of all of a person's blood by a chemical overload is a real thing. $\endgroup$ – nigel222 Jul 11 '16 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ Freaky. Sometimes a good imagination can be a curse. Grat answer! $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Jul 11 '16 at 17:41
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A slightly different method is to make the infection method something tied to the host being alive, like respiration.

If the disease is spread air borne by breathing it will not spread from any dead host.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting option. But it leads to another question. Can a disease be airborne and not vectored by fluid or touch? I will have to ask that next. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Jul 10 '16 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't Tuberculosis a real-world instance? $\endgroup$ – nigel222 Jul 11 '16 at 17:43
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Viruses may be a loophole worth exploring. Scientifically they are not categorized as "living," so the only time you could even consider them alive is while their DNA is part of an infected cell churning out viruses. Thus, when the host dies, and their cells die with them, the virus "dies."

Alternatively, a disease which tries to cause spontaneous combustion or some similar runaway cycle could work.

One challenge you will have with this is that the definition of "death" on a cellular level is blurrier than just a few minutes. Our own cells can last quite a while:

While the body as a whole may be dead, little things within the body are still alive. Skin cells, for example, can be viably harvested for up to 24 hours after death [source: Mims]

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. Your loophole however works against me as it makes viruses dangerous as an infector years after their previous hosts have died. Thank you for helping me rule viruses out in my search for an apocolypse disease. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Jul 10 '16 at 22:29

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