Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2000AD Prog 1783 - A medical review

Spoiler alert! Mild spoilers for the Judge Dredd story from Prog 1783 ahead. You have been warned!

The Day of Chaos - Eve of Destruction story by John Wagner continues and the situation in Mega-City One just gets worse. The Council of Five meet to try and plan a way out of the approaching catastrophe and they have summoned my favourite Mega-City Microbiologist, Professor Lucas Wyant.

Wyant lays out the difficulties they face in trying to control the spread of the deadly Chaos Bug. His calculations of the numbers of people likely to be infected are based on an exponential growth rate with each newly infected victim going on to infect a number of people and so on, and so on. Plugging Wyant's figures into excel and using an exponential growth trend suggests that the number of Chaos infected citizens on day four will be 147 million. After the Apocalypse war the Mega-City One population is about 400 million so Wyant is correct when he says that Dredd's suggestion of a quarter of the city is likely to be an underestimate. However Dredd is not far off and this just reinforces the impression that Dredd instinctively knows his city and the challenges facing it. Likewise John Wagner's attention to detail in this storyline continues to impress me. He certainly seems to have a grasp of public health issues and exponential growth rates.

Turning back a page Judges in bio-hazard suits examine the body of one of the infected agents who brought the Chaos bug into the city. They note that he bled to death and that transfusions just seemed to make the situation worse.

It would seem that along with all the others symptoms the infection also causes a condition called Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, or DIC for short, which is an extremely serious blood clotting disorder. In DIC multiple tiny clots form within blood vessels and these clots quickly use up all the proteins known as clotting factors. Without these clotting factors there is nothing to stop bleeding and the result is uncontrolled haemorrhage. Giving patients blood or infusing clotting factors may buy some time but can actually make things worse and the only effective treatment is to find what has caused the DIC in the first place, and to reverse that. As Professor Wyant points out, for the victims of the incurable Chaos bug this is impossible. DIC also explains why the infected bleed from every orifice as discussed in Prog 1765.

I would be fascinated to know where Wagner gets his medical knowledge. He is certainly on the money again here, even in a single throw-away remark by a Med-Judge that reveals more about the deadly plague which is sweeping the Mega-City. This issue gets a full 5 out of 5 medic-droids for medical accuracy. The new Golden Age of 2000AD continues. If you want to get caught up on what you have been missing then there is a useful recap of the Day of Chaos storyline on the 2000AD site here.

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