A recent outbreak of the Zeta virus has caused a major public health scare. Thought to be activated by pictures of Catherine Zeta-Jones, the virus mainly affects old men, particularly those called Douglas or Michael. Pictures of Zeta-Jones attending Tuesday’s premier of the film Dad’s Army in a revealing blue dress triggered an outbreak of acute cases, but longer-term chronic effects are expected to trouble those old enough to sit through the film itself, in which Zeta-Jones plays a journalist.
Tropical diseases expert Dr Jane Worsthorne, 43, said it was too early to say whether the Zeta virus was a mutation of the Zika virus which has much of South America in its grip. ‘Zika is most dangerous to young pregnant women,’ she said, ‘while Zeta tends to strike that section of the population for whom getting anyone pregnant is usually a distant memory. Having said that, initial symptoms often include a remarkable, though short-lived, increase in libido and reversal of erectile dysfunction.’
After the initial effects wear off, victims usually suffer a delusional Zeta fixation for periods ranging from hours to weeks, before progressing to the final stages which usually involve sobbing quietly. While rarely fatal, the virus can cause potentially harmful palpitations and a rise in blood pressure.
While Zika is spread by mosquitoes, which flourish in stagnant water, the Zeta virus is thought to be transmitted by the nostalgia bug, which thrives best in warm beer drunk by groups of potential sufferers. It then lies dormant until aroused by an appropriate, or more likely inappropriate, picture.
With a vaccine said to be ten years or more away, most experts think it more likely that the disease will die out naturally, as the power of the Zeta image reduces and potential sufferers fall prey to other age-related health problems instead.