Introduction to H5N1Z
In 2004, a well known strain of the Influenza A virus, H5N1 mutates. The results are deadly, as the virus causes extreme changes to the victims body and mind. The virus first acts like a normal case of flu for several hours or days, preventing easy detection and allowing the virus to spread long before victims enter the final stage. Once the flu has set in, victims undergo a process of "Zombiefication", causing distress, panic, violent tendencies and a taste for human flesh. This new strain became known as "H5N1Z".
In October 2004, researchers discovered that H5N1 is far more dangerous than was previously believed. Waterfowl were revealed to be directly spreading the highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 to chickens, crows, pigeons, and other birds, and the virus was increasing its ability to infect mammals as well. From this point on, avian flu experts increasingly referred to containment as a strategy that can delay, but not ultimately prevent, a future avian flu pandemic.
The original outbreak of the H5N1Z strain occurred in the United Kingdom somewhere around the 31st of October 2004. Its link to H5N1 was published on the 15th of November by the World Health Organisation after capturing several infected, although its findings were not taken seriously at the time. Its infection rate was severe with the long wait between initial infection and manifestation, several of the WHO's staff developed symptoms from their handling of the infected and their tests and joined many others in the general public who didn't fully understand how the strain spread. The country was cut off by the international community soon after the extent and seriousness of the problem was realised. It was not soon enough however, and nearby countries Ireland and France also faced serious widespread cases of infection.
Later estimates claim over 120 Million people had died either of, or as a result of the virus in these three countries alone. Survivors remain in these countries, often in desperate conditions with little outside help. Those who have managed to leave have found temporary homes in other countries, particularly colonial or ex-colonial territories (in the cases of UK and France) or in other areas of the European Union such as Germany which has become the political and economic capital of Europe.
Political realities of the 21st Century
With the United Kingdom and France, both Permanent members of the United Nations security council and important members of the European Union in ruins, major restructuring in both organisations began to occur. In the European Union, Bulgaria and Romania who were set to join had their candidacies delayed indefinitely while the crisis continued. The infected countries; UK, France and Ireland were reduced in standing to "Governments in Exile". One country, Italy had decided to leave the EU completely. Other countries, such as Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands have been weakened; but just as much through political infighting as the H5N1Z virus.
Meanwhile, in the UN, the European Union was able to convince other member states that it should replace the United Kingdom and France in the Security Council. Debates and deadlocks between rival countries have become commonplace on who, if anyone should take up the other seat.