The Rage Virus (also known as the Infection or RV for short) is a fictional disease in the 2002 film 28 Days Later, and in the 2007 film 28 Weeks Later. It also appears in the graphic novel 28 Days Later: The Aftermath. It is a virulent, bloodborne virus that sends its hosts into fits of extreme uncontrollable rage.
In the graphic novel 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, two Cambridge University scientists named Clive and Warren were trying to isolate the specific neurochemicals that cause anger and excessive aggression in humans in order to develop an inhibitor that regulates anger control issues.
Warren decided that it was a waste of time to experiment on volunteers from the school for the experiment because Cambridge students obviously didn't have uncontrollable rage. So he manages to get a contact at a police station to give him a violent criminal as a test subject. There was a problem with the delivery system. The injections were too diluted so Warren increased the dosage. However, the inhibitor still had no effect and when the test subject was about to attack Warren and Clive, Warren was forced to kill him. He then immediately decided they would experiment on chimpanzees, as Clive had been suggesting. Warren and Clive were burying the criminal, Clive sneezed -- giving Warren an idea. They had known that delivering widespread with a pill wouldn't do, neither would an aerosol. He decided that they should use a contagion as a delivery system. He located a certain genome in a strain of the Ebola virus. Using this new delivery system, the two exposed a chimpanzee to the inhibitor. However, the inhibitor mutated. In the chimpanzee, it had the opposite effect of what is was supposed to do. That is, it caused the chimpanzee to be full of uncontrollable rage. Warren had "created a Rage Virus."
Clive was so disgusted by this that he quit. He later informed an animal rights eco-terrorist organization called the Animal Freedom Front about the experimenting on animals and then shot himself. A group of activists sent by the AFF later break into the lab and free the infected rage filled chimpanzees. A scientist tried to warn them about the virus infecting the chimps but they ignored his warnings and released one of the chimps. That infected chimpanzee attacked and infected a female activist, then the other activists and the scientist. From them, the Rage Virus began to spread throughout the island of Great Britain.
The Rage Virus causes its hosts to permanently enter a primal state of murderous rage with a biological imperative to spread the infection or kill the uninfected above all else. The infected are reduced to an animalistic state of permanent hostility and aggression, driving them to attack non-infected with no concern for their own safety and no moral or other inhibitions that could control their actions and behaviour.
As strange as it is, it is not responsible for biological death of its host, nor would it be the direct cause of death. In this state of permanent and extreme psychosis, much similar to the puberty cycle the brain is undergoing continuous hormonal changes. One of these changes includes continuously pumping adrenaline into the host's system, giving the Infected odd feats of strength, agility, endurance (especially in pursuit of the uninfected). However this hormonal distribution places enormous stress on their metabolism. The infected (sprinters) act with no regard for self preservation and will not act to evade mortal danger.
Due to the lack in self preservation sprinters often become disinterested in self nourishment, this will eventually lead to physical exhaustion, coma, and lastly death caused by starvation. In a tertiary addition of “Lacking Self Preservation” the infected ignore wounds such as explosive amputation of limbs, and even immolation.
The virus enters the circulatory system and is quick to manifest itself into the victim, causing symptoms within hours and full infiltration within a 24 hour period. As the virus infiltrates the host, they experience a spasmodic effect. Shaking and or shuddering of the outer extremities in a rapid manner. Following that seizures and frothing of the mouth will occur as symptoms progress.
Copious amounts of infected blood is continually gibbered out of the mouth area because of deliquescent organs. Depending on how much infected blood and saliva entered the wound, could potentially change the time of infiltration. The virus passes through bodily fluids. Some people may possess a hereditary immunity, allowing them to become infected with the virus without exhibiting any of its usual symptoms. These people would remain carriers of the infection, and can transmit it through blood-saliva contact and saliva exchange.
In the film 28 Weeks Later it is shown that there are certain people who, while not immune to the virus in the truest sense, can carry the virus without any physical or psychological changes, except for one - a reddening of parts of the left eye. These people are classified as "asymptomatic carriers" (possibly a mistake by the scientists in the film, as the eye change is technically a symptom).
A carrier will not become uncontrollably violent like other infected and will otherwise be unaffected by the presence of the virus. A carrier can, of course, still spread the virus as they still carry it in their blood and saliva. The audience is led to believe that whatever traits the carrier's biology uses to resist the full effects of the virus may be harnessed to develop a cure or vaccine.
Main article: Infected
The Infected are distinct from almost all cinematic zombies; they are not the reanimated dead. Also, films such as Return of the Living Dead, and Resident Evil series portray zombies as creatures that desire to consume living flesh. By contrast, the infected chase uninfected with the simple desire to either kill or infect them in a fit of rage. This characteristic is seen most clearly when the infected make the use of tools to aid their killing of uninfected. For example, Don used Major Scarlet Ross's own rifle to beat her to death. Another example was when Don inflicted extreme pain and cruelty upon his wife by forcing his thumbs through her brain via the eye sockets, which suggests some sort of sadistic thought process. It is unknown if this desire to cause suffering is why a specimen will sometimes interrupt their attack to intentionally vomit blood into the face of their prey. While somewhat uncommon, this method has been known to quickly transform the human into a fellow infected attacker.
Another change would seem to be that adrenaline is constantly being produced and utilized by the infected body, as even days after the change, an infected specimen can display extraordinary feats of strength, agility, endurance (especially in pursuit of the uninfected), and also to ignore wounds such as explosive amputation of limbs and even immolation.
And while the infected will attempt to bite their victims, it is usually as a means of either infecting or killing them (often by biting into the main arteries in their neck), though in extreme cases zombies will 'gang up' on a victim and literally tear them to pieces. They are not shown to ingest any organic material, and probably do not feed. Since rage-infected specimens are still living human beings, they can be killed using means that are fatal to uninfected, as well as succumbing to starvation, unlike zombies.