A widespread blood disease of many strains, lycanthropy is a condition that seriously changes the human body. Those infected are known as lycanthropes. The wolf and rat strains are very common, while the leopard, lion, and other cat strains are more rare - someone attacked by a weretiger is less likely to change than someone attacked by a werewolf. Lycanthropy can be passed on via a bite or a clawing wound given from a lycanthrope in animal or hybrid form, or via an exchange of blood. The disease can also be contracted from the vaccine, but this problem is believed to be obsolete now, as the newer vaccines are dead, not live. Many people still refuse to take the inoculation out of fear, however. A new anti-lycanthropy therapy is being used experimentally in a few cities: after an attack, they inject the victim with a live shot, so that the two strains of lycanthropy cancel each other out. This treatment is risky, however, because if the attack does not lead to an infection, the live shot has an equal chance of infecting the victim. Reliable blood tests for lycanthropy aren't possible until seventy-two hours after the time of infection, and by that point it is too late for the live shot to compete with the infection. Tiger lycanthropy is a common choice for the vaccine - if administered to a victim who was attacked by a weretiger, however, the vaccine has no preventative effect, and only doubles the chance of infection.
Although lycanthropy is passed from mother to child, virtually no one outside of the weretiger clans is aware of this fact. It is rare for a lycanthrope mother to carry a baby to term, because changing shape almost always induces a miscarriage. A lycanthrope father can pass on Mowgli Syndrome to the child if he was in animal or hybrid form during intercourse. Once turned, lycanthropes are immune to other strains of lycanthropy (aside from the 30 or so panweres existing in the world, only four of which are in the United States), and to vampirism (with the notable exception of the line of hybrids created by the Mother of All Darkness).
The first symptom of lycanthropy is unusually rapid healing, along with increased temperature, both of which take effect within days of the infection. The new lycanthrope's speed and strength increase even before their first change, and they start to develop more powerful senses (especially hearing and smell), along with somewhat feral instincts.
All lycanthropes possess strength and speed far beyond anything a human is capable of - they can bench press a car easily, and can move fast enough to seem like a blur to the human eye. Lycanthrope metabolisms are much faster than human metabolisms, which is why lycanthropes need to consume more calories, why they heal so quickly, and also why they have a higher body temperature than humans. Cold temperatures and ice baths, sometimes used to bring down fevers in humans, can be fatal to lycanthropes if given to them while they are healing serious injuries - they require high temperatures to heal, and recover best when surrounded by their clan.
Aside from wounds which sever the brain stem, lycanthropes can heal from almost anything. Although they are immune to poisons and diseases, lycanthropes are highly allergic to silver, and most will be burned by any external contact with the metal - some powerful lycanthropes, however, are not harmed unless the silver breaks the skin or is otherwise ingested. Wounds created by silver heal at human speed, if the lycanthrope does not shift before they are healed. As a result, silver is the only metal that can be used for body piercing on a lycanthrope - the holes will close up around other metals. However, doing this causes the lycanthrope constant mild pain as the 'wounds' stay fresh. Wounds made by other lycanthropes or fire will also heal slowly.
A birth defect, Mowgli Syndrome is only a concern if the father of the child was in animal or hybrid form at the time of conception. While not all of the details of this rare defect are known, the fetus might develop with animal speed instead of taking the nine months normal for human gestation.
From the Author:
Mowgli Syndrome is a genetic birth defect in Anita’s world. It happens when a human woman that does not shapeshift (because technically shapeshifters are still human) has sex with a shapeshifter while he’s in half man, half beast form. There is a chance that any baby conceived during that kind of sex could have a mixture of human and animal DNA. This does not make them into a born shifter. This makes them a hybrid and some pretty terrible things can ocurr. First, the baby can develop at the speed of the animal in question which with leopards is a matter of weeks, not months. So a human woman can go from barely knowing she’s pregnant to being so pregnant you can’t get a legal abortion. There are no recorded cases of a baby born with Mowgli’s syndrome living for very long. There are cases where the mother dies during the pregnancy or birth. Her body just can’t take the rapid changes of a pregnancy shortened by half, or more. Also the woman’s body can begin to see the baby’s DNA as an intruder just like a rejected transplant organ, or a mother who has a reaction to the RH factor in her baby’s blood… I figured that if a real pregnancy could begin attacking the fetus just because of RH incompatibility, or a variety of other things, then what would happen if you put DNA that was truly different from the mother’s in her body. If you could manage to get a baby and mother alive and whole through a pregnancy with this genetic problem then you’d end up not with a baby shapeshifter, but with something that was neither human nor animal, but a mixture, and not that more elegant mixture of the leopardman, or wolfman, form.
Although some argue that vampirism is a disease, it is truly a magical state of undeath. Those affected are known as vampires.
The fastest rising birth defect in the United States, Vlad Syndrome is likely to occur when a vampire fathers a child on a human mother. Vlad Syndrome causes the fetus to be born as a revenant (an animalistic vampire). Frequently these babies will eat their way out of the womb, killing the mother in the process. For this reason, amniotic testing is strongly encouraged for human-vampire relationships.