Dawley's Mind-Rending Box of Sand

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Item #: SCP-XXXX

Object Class: Keter

Special Containment Procedures: Samples of SCP-XXXX must be kept in a Class-3 biohazard containment area, with appropriate safety protocols to be undertaken to prevent infestation through exposure to both eggs and larval stages that may be extant. Staff conducting analysis and experimentation on samples of SCP-XXXX are required to submit to regular screening and testing to ensure they have not been accidentally exposed. Should any instances of SCP-XXXX be detected, the afflicted staff must be kept in quarantine for a minimum of 14 days and administered with the following medications:

•Praziquantel
•Pyrantel
•Tiabendazole
•Albendazole

Regular screening is to be conducted throughout the duration of quarantine. If the infestation shows signs of having been stopped, an additional 7 days of quarantine under supervision are to be conducted with additional treatment. Unsuccessful treatment of infestation will result in immediate euthanisation and incineration by on-site biohazard staff.

In the event that multiple instances of SCP-XXXX are encountered and discovered to constitute a mass infestation, a quarantine perimeter of 2.5 kilometres must be established around the central zone of infestation. Once the area has been cordoned off Foundation staff, posing as members of the Critical Care Air Transport Team or its local equivalent, enter the affected area to assess the extent of SCP-XXXX infestation and determine the best course of action for decontamination. Any infested livestock or civilians in the affected area must be isolated and terminated.

As of 07/29/20██, common pesticides and poisons used in agricultural practices do not affect newly-recovered specimens of SCP-XXXX. This document will be updated once new pesticides have been approved for use in containment procedures. As of this date, recommended medications in human infestations are still effective in slowing and/or halting the progression of SCP-XXXX's growth, but it is recommended that alternatives be sought in case of immunity in the near-future.

Description: SCP-XXXX is a parasitic organism which manifests itself in the digestive organs of large mammals. It was first encountered in ████████, ███████ on 06/20/19██, when private reports of an unusual parasitic infection in dairy cattle were intercepted by Foundation agents. Subsequent investigation uncovered evidence of parasitic infestation in seven other locations throughout the country. The infested cattle were quarantined and euthanised, with surviving instances of SCP-XXXX preserved for study and experimentation at Site-12.

Most documented incidents involving the parasite have been restricted to cattle and populations of grazing animals found in rural areas. In all recent cases, however, cross-species infestation has occurred and affected localised human populations. In order for infestation to occur, the potential host must have physical contact with either eggs or larvae from a mature specimen of SCP-XXXX. Exposure to bodily fluids of an infested subject and consumption of contaminated foodstuffs are the most common source of initial exposure to SCP-XXXX, though there may be other mechanisms of infestation that are as yet unknown.

The lifecycle of SCP-XXXX resembles that of many parasitoid organisms found in the animal kingdom, the closest being found in the phylum Nematomorpha. When the eggs of SCP-XXXX are ingested by a new host organism, they hatch when exposed to temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius or higher, such as the internal body temperature of an average human. The hatched eggs release spores (referred to as SCP-XXXX-2) which spread through the body until they reach the intestines. Once there, they take root and attach to nearby blood vessels and nerve endings, switching off any pain impulses which would alert the host to the ensuing infection and feeding off nutrients from the circulatory system. When the spores have grown to a sufficient size, the larval stage of SCP-XXXX (referred to as SCP-XXXX-3) hatches.

Instances of SCP-XXXX-3 initially feed off nutrients in the bloodstream along with SCP-XXXX-2, but later begin to consume the surrounding tissues as it increases in size. As SCP-XXXX-3 continues to grow it extrudes a number of hair-like follicles into the intestine to absorb nutrients from the digested food that passes through. Towards the end of its development, SCP-XXXX-3 will extend a proboscis into the host's aortic valve (see Addendum SCP-XXXX-02a) and latch onto the host's stomach with its newly-formed “head” (see Addendum SCP-XXXX-02b). It then enters its pupal stage, allowing for it to anchor more firmly into the internal organs. Once grown, the pupae molts and has become a mature instance of SCP-XXXX. The molt is passed through the intestines and expelled as waste.

Once the molting stage ends, the parasite begins to consume the small intestine. The aft end of the mature SCP-XXXX extends further into the small intestine while the remainder of its body releases an enzyme that fuses the intestine wall to the parasite's skin and slowly absorbs it, eventually replacing the small intestine entirely. Hosts have been known to exhibit discomfort and sickness during this timeframe, which lasts for between 2 to 5 weeks depending on the size of the host. Once the intestine has been fully replaced by SCP-XXXX, the parasite proceeds to fulfill the function of the small intestine to keep the host alive. After this point, a host may experience occasional discomfort but is otherwise outwardly unaffected by SCP-XXXX (see Addendum SCP-XXXX-01).

SCP-XXXX is hermaphroditic and does not need to be in contact with another parasite in order to reproduce. Reproduction occurs after a brief period of extended feeding, which is followed by disgorging of several dozen eggs into the large intestine. During some reproductive periods seen in human hosts, SCP-XXXX is capable of hatching the eggs it produces internally, and distributing the spores into the circulatory system of the host so that infestation through exchange of bodily fluids may occur.

Infestations of SCP-XXXX are difficult to detect for the above reasons, doubly so when dealing with human hosts. While humans cannot support the same number of parasites as larger mammals, they are capable of hiding their infection from peers and field agents. If an infectee is located after initial infection or during the larval growth stage, the parasite may be removed with a ██% chance of complication and death, compared with the ██% for advanced infection. In some humans, evacuation may occur prior to death (see Addendum SCP-XXXX-3). In the event of this, the host will initially survive, but death normally occurs within 72 hours due to a combination of internal hemorrhaging and organ damage.

Addendum SCP-XXXX-01: While the hosts of SCP-XXXX can provide indefinite support for them, in the event of a host’s death they will evacuate the body through the nearest available orifice and seek out a suitable environment in which to survive. Reasons for host death include oxygen starvation, organ destruction, internal bleeding and heart attack, though a more recent proposal suggests that death is triggered via an enzyme release to kill the host’s nervous system. If this theory is correct it could mean that the evacuation of the parasite is a normal part of its life cycle, but it has not yet been observed in human hosts.
Addendum SCP-XXXX-02a: The proboscis in the aortic valve is used primarily to release enzymes and chemicals into the host’s bloodstream to condition its behaviour, and grants no nutrients to the parasite. Hosts to SCP-XXXX have been observed to go through cycles of intense feeding to either supply nutrients to the dominant parasite within or to sustain a fresh growth of SCP-XXXX-2.
Addendum SCP-XXXX-02b:During an outbreak in █████, ████████ it was discovered that a bovine host was supporting seven fully developed and one partially-formed parasite in its stomach cavity. As of ██/██/████, the support of multiple parasites has been noted in a minimum number of human infestations and is considered to be an uncommon occurrence.
Addendum SCP-XXXX-03: On 13/04/20██, the town of ████, ██████ was quarantined when evidence of SCP-XXXX infestation was discovered. Twelve of the townspeople were found to have been affected, and of these eleven were isolated and terminated. The single remaining subject was taken to Site-12 for study, and when sedated for a general medical biopsy the subject underwent cardiac arrest before the biopsy could begin. While resuscitation was begun, the instance of SCP-XXXX within the subject extruded itself from the navel and wrapped around the lead surgeon's arm. The instance of SCP-XXXX was quickly eliminated with no infestation of staff. Autopsy of the affected subject determined that the instance of SCP-XXXX had burrowed through the abdominal tissues and constricted around the subject's heart, inducing cardiac arrest. Subject had subsequently died due to toxic shock from its ruptured stomach lining.
Addendum SCP-XXXX-04: Despite the resemblance to various organisms within the animal kingdom, analysis on genetic samples recovered following the infestation in ███████ revealed the presence of four additional nucleobases within the DNA of SCP-XXXX. These pairings have presented the possibility of SCP-XXXX being a non-naturally occurring organism, or an organism that does not occur naturally on Earth. Further investigation into its origin are being undertaken.