The spread and aftermath of HALO – the pandemic of 2045
Every disease has a few individuals who are resistant and a larger pool of people who will recover. HALO was the same. Though the disease ripped through populations before anyone even understood what caused it, or believed it really was a disease, there were some who survived.
The returned missionaries from the leprosy center in Brazil spread HALO on their route home and quickly passed the disease to family, friends, and church members. These small outbreaks of symptoms similar to those experienced at the center were the first warning that HALO was not food poisoning, tainted water, or mildew. By the time WHO, the CDC, and other health agencies realized they were dealing with an unknown new contagion, and put into place the quarantine procedures developed during Harvey’s Flu, infections of HALO spread due to airline travel had already erupted in London, Manchester, Berlin, Madrid, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. HALO was a pandemic before what caused it was even known.
The world panicked.
City wide quarantines went into effect, though without knowing the cause of HALO attempts to contain it were trial and error with a large cost when errors were made. Health organizations raced against a disease that grew exponentially while governments attempted to contain desperate and frightened citizens. In what felt like a day to those who survived, but in actuality took almost a month, the world collapsed into chaos. Broken quarantines, riots, overthrown governments, and more than a few governments that simply abandoned their countries accelerated the disease.
The unknown is the most frightening. Add to that a disease that killed in a painful and horrifying manner, and the reactions of the populace to HALO is understandable. Though it is easy to wonder if what was done to protect loved ones and oneself was not worse than the actual disease.
Actual statistics of the months HALO ravaged earth are nearly impossible to reconstruct. It is known that HALO spread quickly due to the lack of understanding that is spread through diaspores as well as through contact with infected fluids. Sitting in a room with someone exhibiting the early stages of mouth sores was as likely to pass infection as sharing a drink with them.
But not everyone died from it.
There were so many deaths from other causes, starvation, dehydration, murder, and suicide, that the actual death rate of HALO is difficult to determine. Estimates are between 60 and 70%. When the chaotic months of HALO passed in 2045 and the world took stock of where it stood, the population had fallen from a barely recovered 7.5 billion after Harvey’s Flu in 2039 to 3.2 billion after HALO, all living in a world designed for nearly 8 billion. Society had to recreate itself.
But first, it had to burn the dead and come to terms with the epidemic of brutality that swept the planet hand in hand with HALO.