Perhaps worse than one of those un-cure-able STDS, a late-stage diagnosis of a terminal illness or the stigma of both combined, greyscale is no joke. The affliction affects one in every 50 citizens of the free cities, which may not sound too much cause for concern but considering how contagious it is and how we're currently in a season of high travel, there are more and more reports of greyscale circulating.

If you're not familiar with this particularly harrowing disease, consider yourself lucky! Greyscale affects the skin, causing it to turn to a grey and ashy hardened exterior, spreading throughout the body until it progresses inwards, hardening the muscles and organs. The disease kills its victims slowly but very painfully. In its final stages, once it reaches one's head, it turns the mouth and tongue to a hardened stoney state as well as the eyes so the victims often go blind and cannot speak, if they last that long into it.

Adults who catch the disease often do not live longer than five years, usually succumbing to its effects within one to two years. Children however have been known to have slightly more of a chance of survival if treated early enough on, usually with unregulated treatment from non-medical healers and maesters. Even if cured however, they still live with the stigma from visible scars even though they are no longer contagious.

I reached out to a handful of dermatologists to assess what can be done about the growing rates of greyscale, many of whom either did not wish to be named or blatantly dismissed the idea of such an aggressive ailment. Why? Perhaps a willful ignorance towards undiscovered medical maladies, or it's possible that greyscale is so unstudied that no one yet understands what it is, let alone how to treat it.

One New York-based dermatologist who requested to remain anonymous remarked, "Wait, what? Greyscale? Like the Game of Thrones thing? That's not… a thing in real life, I'm pretty sure."

Another claimed that "You mean stone men? Oh, people with greyscale are banished to the Valyria outskirts as a way of quarantine… but in a fictional series. That place doesn't actually exist in real li—"

That medical professionals refuse to recognize greyscale as a danger to the citizens outside of the free cities, let alone recognize the disease at all is cause for growing concern among those who have seen the devastating effects of greyscale in their community. We can only hope that more research and a willingness to explore exotic ailments that could have potentially devastating repercussions will inspire the medical community to get ahead of this disease before it spreads further into Westeros and Essos, two places that definitely exist in real life.

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