The virus is an ancient respiratory virus that was frozen in the polar ice caps and released during the mining of Arcanum. It is the same virus that killed the dinosaurs, and has mutated over the centuries. After being released, the virus was transmitted through the genetic modification of arcanum at the refineries. This caused the virus to spread rapidly and mutate into two strains: non-lethal and lethal. Sky Medix, who was at the forefront of arcanum research and development, recognized the non-lethal strain early, and a team of researchers led by Mitchell Scott began work on a vaccine.
However, the lethal strain began to spread in the Northeastern United States. The media warned citizens of the “super flu,” advising everyone to be aware of the symptoms (sore throat, coughing up blood/bleeding from the mouth, vertigo). The virus continued to spread, and soon people started to show aggressive, rabies-like symptoms that resulted in violence, panic and chaos. The CDC advised everyone to stay indoors and avoid human contact, but those that were already infected were aggressively seeking human contact. A smaller percentage of the population became infected with a “paralytic” form of the virus, which caused the person to become quiet and withdrawn, and led to a number of cases of people returning home to find their loved ones dead inside.
As the virus spread throughout the country, Sky Medix released the medical delivery drones to get the vaccine out to people quickly without risking the infection of others. However, the vaccine was not ready, and Sky Medix sent a placebo out to the unknowing public. Internally, Sky Medix continued to develop the vaccine, and Mitchell Scott injected a host with the vaccine to propagate the non-lethal strain. As Sky Medix grew closer to having a vaccine ready, their facility was attacked by extremists who championed the virus as an act of providence. All of the Sky Medix research on the vaccine was destroyed, and the population was decimated. Though exact figures are unknown on how many casualties the virus claimed, it is estimated that 90% of the population was killed.