consider abrahamic religions. I have always thought of these as an example of a sort of self replicating 'mental virus' as well. The idea (the belief, viral) is replicated by an individual who hears of it because they have to make a choice between risking hell (the price of considering the idea and then deciding it MAY not be conclusive) or embracing it. Once embraced it has successfully replicated itself in the individual who is now interested in spreading the idea, the ultimatum of replication, in the interest of 'saving' their fellow humans.
Im not sure this has anything to do with synthetical science but there is certainly a phenomena of non-living "idea" viruses.
Further smaller scale examples would be "your mother will die in her sleep tonight if you do not reply with plz no" type posts and the occasional free-form headless pyramid schemes that float around on social media (person A gets 5 people to send them one book, each person who sends him a book now has the opportunity to get 5 people to send them a book, etc.).