Gutburners

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Gutburners replaced their ancestor and became more mild as to not burn through their hosts. They retain all five stages, but stop at stage three unless the organism it is infecting is not particularly healthy so that they remain contagious for much longer. Like their ancestor, they consume cytoplasm from the cells of their hosts’ gut lining. They mainly infect geletaventrians, as their ancestor did. They are named for the burning sensation they create when they progress especially far in an unhealthy individual.

Like their ancestor, Gutburners have 5 stages of infection. In stage 1, they have just entered their host and are unnoticeable. In stage 2, they have begun to consume enough cells that the host’s appetite has increased to compensate. In stage 3, which was the point of no return in their ancestor, they have begun to kill cells faster than the host can replace them. However, before they can break through the gut lining, they abruptly slow down and most Gutburner cells detach and begin to hibernate. At this point, the infection is either completely cleared by diarrhea or reverts back to stage 1 or 2. However, in an unhealthy host, or if the host suffers an injury within its gut, the disease can progress further. At stage 4, it spreads outside the gut and essentially kills the host from the inside out, and at stage 5 it becomes contagious once again as the host rots alive and the pathogen cells are released.

Gutburners have very few physical distinctions between species. Some specialize in specific host species, while others infect broader groups of organisms. Like many real-world microbes, they can be difficult to distinguish without examining their genomes.