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.
It is believed that some beings may be capable of fighting off the transformation once they have been infected with varying results. Some researchers hypothesize that this may be due to the presence of a less aggressive strain, although no formal research has been conducted on the subject. Still others have sought to counteract the effects of the plague with a synthetic virus, a strategy employed by some in order to deliberately engineer a being's DNA in an experimental process called the Semper Procedure.
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.