The Metamorphosis Plague is one of the most devastating pandemics in interstellar history. Although there are several competing theories as to the etiology of the plague, a recent analysis of DNA from survivors indicates that the pathogen linked to the Derra Virus rewrites the DNA of the subject transforming them from one species into another species. The first outbreak of this plague occurred in Year 4. During that time the plague was confined to the Human species and others were unscathed by the outbreak.
A decade after its first appearance, however, the plague returned. It was inadvertently released by scientists trying to find a cure for the Great Animosity Plague that had broken out on Derra IV on Year 14 Day 1. The release occurred on Year 14 Day 25. Unlike its predecessor, this new strain of the plague affects all known sentient species. Scientists predict it will run its course within a month.
A very volatile disease, once a victim mutates into a different species, a brief lapse in memory has been recorded to occur. After a subject's genome settles, memory is restored; however, in some special cases, it has been noted that few subjects recall learning new trades or abilities while completely forgetting others. From the few cases that have been observed the actual transformation process is shown to be extremely painful.
As with the first strain of the disease, many victims have been observed to show no memory of the way they were before, even going so far as to create elaborate stories to reason away their transformation. Researchers speculate that this is most likely a psychological defense, rather than an actual side effect of the plague.
Some victims have also reported becoming infertile after the violent transformation; however, this effect appears to be rare, reported in approximately 1 out of every 100 cases.
Some beings have actually been known to fight off the transformation. It is unknown what allows these beings to stop the plague's progress, but all studies into this have turned up inconclusive. However once the transformation has been initially resisted, it does not resurface.Researchers funded by House Arkoh have hypothesized that when a victim is infected with a slower moving strain, the body attempts to fight off the tissues with the new genetic material in an auto-immune response. If the response is ineffective, however, and the new tissue becomes more prevalent it will treat the original tissues as if they were foreign, and attack them as well. In more extreme cases this can be fatal. In at least one case (Paul Luz) researchers were able to introduce a third type of genetic material in order to slow the tissue destruction. This occurred by injecting the patient with the genetic material via a synthetic virus. This virus would be more aggressive and would overtake the other tissues, weakened by their opposing immune responses. What happened in the case of Mr. Luz was that the new tissue (Mirialan) and the third tissue (Arkanian genetic material) eventually eradicated his original tissue (Baragwin). The nature of the two viruses eventually allowed for a hybridization of DNA, and the body returned to homeostasis. This procedure has been named the Semper Procedure, and is being taught in Trade Federation medical schools.
Cures and Prevention
Currently no true cure exists. However, there are many ways to protect oneself from the plague. Limiting any contact with the infected is the best way to avoid contamination. If contamination has occurred it is strongly recommended that one take a full power sonic shower, followed by a traditional shower, if at possible, with liquid of the appropriate type heated to around 100 degrees, followed by another sonic shower. It is then strongly suggested that the possibly infected turn themselves in to proper medical authorities.
Early estimates revealed that Humans and species closely related to Humans are between five and ten times as likely to be affected by the plague as other species. This indicates that Humans remain as vulnerable as during the Year 4 outbreak and have not developed antibodies against this new strain of plague. Of non-Humans, Falleen and Gand appear to be significantly more susceptible than all other species; however, these data may be biased by the degree of presence each of the species have on the galactic scene. Accurate reports may not be available from less technologically-capable species and those with less developed medical facilities.
The ten most commonly observed results of the plague's genetic mutation are listed below, in order of likelihood. These data, too, may be biased by the availability of medical reports, but represent a fair sampling of the only publicly-available records.
It is not conclusively known whether or not the species of the plague carrier by which each victim is affected has any bearing on the nature of the genetic modification, few data support that hypothesis.