Basic Biomods (p 300 EP) renders most modern transhumans immune to nearly all conventional forms of infection. Regular earthly diseases and parasites are all accounted for and easily found by the advanced tailored microbes and smart bacteriophages which are included in the package. This grows even more advanced with Medichines (p. 308 EP) - specialized medical nanos which heal the body on a cellular level, and can filter or destroy hostile microorganisms or compounds nearly instantly. However, while evolution may be slow to take it's course, science can work much faster. Tailored diseases can bypass or fool basic biomods and even sometimes outwit Medichines, or specialized neogenetic bacteria or virii built for one purpose can have adverse effects on the transhuman body. Below listed are some examples
Officially HTBS (Horizontal Transfer Bacteria Syndrome), but more commonly known by its aliases which include "Biomad", "Mod's disease" or "Hit-B". This disease occurs when strains of bacteria affect the smart microbes bundled into Basic Biomods via horizontal gene transfer (HGT). This causes random mutations in the biomod system, leading to diverse symptoms, which are unpleasant but usually nonfatal. Conceivably any side-effect could occur, but commonly involves fevers, aches, rashes, congestion, nausea, etc. Biomodder only affects those with Basic Biomods, and while it's symptoms can be instantly fixed with Medichines, the only reliable way to cure it is to update one's biomods or receive an antibacterial cleanse in a Healing Vat. Suggested mechanical effect is a -10 to -30 penalty to all actions based on severity of symptoms.
Evola is a viral scorcher (P. 332 EP), which was developed by "alt-right" and neofascist pranksters on the mesh, naming it for Italian philosopher Julius Evola and the disease known as Ebola. When administered typically as a scorcher, the code buries itself in the cyberbrain software and subtly infects programming centers associate with verbalization and "conscious" (i/e discrete) thoughts - and then randomly spams the mind or communications made by the Ego with fascist memes or quotes from Evola's works, and occasionally causes abnormal emotional feedback to certain stimuli in the scorcher's library - supposedly aiming to cause one to conform to traditionalist, neofascist ideology. If connected to another cyberbrain or digital mind, the scorcher will attempt to move itself to infect others, but is stopped by most security protocols. While some like to tout this as a great ideological weapon, it's really nothing more than a particularly annoying or distressing prank. Someone infected with Evola takes 1d10/2 SV per day, if they fail a WILx3 check. Once detected, it can be cleared with an InfoSec check. AIs are more vulnerable than transhumans in this regard. [Moderate]
Another typical "prank" disease, Love Sickness is a bacteria which goes "under the radar" by not being directly harmful to the body. Instead, once infected, it begins to propagate and produce hormones and natural chemicals which stimulate feelings of affection, trust and arousal, while also depressing social inhibitions similar to consuming alcohol. The result is that the subject becomes more open, fun-loving and affectionate. Love Sickness is transferable via fluid transfer, and while Basic Biomods has a fairly rigorous contraception/STI protection which means direct intercourse may not transfer, other contact with fluids can result in transfer also. A person infected with Love Sickness must make WILx3 tests not to act in accordance with the drives promoted by the disease, and takes a -10 to Kinesics tests to oppose Deception. Medichines users may elect to be immune to the disease, otherwise the only way to oppose it is to wait for it to run it's course in 12-24 hours, or receive routine antibacterial treatment. While technically a disease, college dorm parties, polyamorous subcultures, brothels and scum swarms are all known to employ the bacteria to aid in "atmosphere" and keep everyone on a level emotional playing field. [Moderate]
One of many engineered virii which are now open sourced on the Mesh, the Jester Virus is an attempt to build something which harms people without necessarily triggering Basic Biomods. If infected, it causes victims to break out in uncontrollable hysteria, laughing fits and other inappropriate emotional responses, while overloading the brain with positive chemicals. The hope is that people are rendered inert and die of secondary effects, or their fits are so severe that they cause harm or even death. In practice, the Jester Virus has caused very little lasting harm to anyone. Distributed as an aerosolized gas, anyone exposed to it must make a DURx2 test (add +30 if they have Medichines). If they pass, they are unaffected, or the infection only inflicts minimal symptoms before being flushed out of the body. Characters who fail are infected, and begin laughing, smiling or crying uncontrollably - suffering a -30 penalty to all actions from distraction, and requiring a SOMx3 test to avoid falling over. This lasts for 6 hours, plus 1 hour for each full 10 MoF. Severe or critical failures indicate a character has had a severe reaction, and takes 1d10/2 DV each hour (ignoring armor) from serious muscle fatigue or oxygen deprivation. [Moderate]
Patch is highly unusual in that it is a tailored biological virus which actually has a purpose to act more like a computer virus. This infection seeks to compromise the Mesh Insert via the medical sensors and diagnostic software bundled into most cranial computers. The virus is not intended to cause harm to the victim, but instead propagates in such a way that when detected by medical sensors, it inputs random snippets of code which develop an exploit in the software. To convince victims is it a real disease, it often causes short spells of fever or fatigue before biomods "defeats" it, but the hack to the Insert is still in place. The infected may make a DUR test (Becomes DURx2 with Medichines) to see if their body can fight off the infection before it can subvert their inserts. Only those with the Basic Mesh Insert are affected. If they fail, they experience the brief symptoms noted above, and the virus installs a backdoor into the user's Mesh Inserts, as per the rules on p 260 EP. At the GM's discretion, characters with newer inserts may be immune to this effect due to patching. The exploit can be "cured" by reinstalling Mesh Inserts, or by a security audit. [High]
"Polymerization" describes an artificial bacteria which was actually developed to help reduce environmental damage on Earth, by consuming certain polymers in order to degrade plastics and help in recycling. It was ported to many early space habitats before nanofabrication made recycling easy, and in places without public nanofab it often remains an important part of the recycling process. However, Polymerization is often a little too effective if it happens to get free from it's closed systems - while not as effective as microorganisms from the exoplanet Solemn, they cause regular degradation of polymers. This means that weapons, tools and even some clothing/armor can be damaged - taking 1d10/2 DV per day, though this is easily countered with Repair Spray or fixer nanoswarms. Additionally, biomorphs with certain cyberware can be infected with Polymerization directly - causing their implants to be damaged in the same way - though once they have accrued enough DV to match their WT the implant is disabled and no further damage is taken. Internal damage can be prevented or repaired via Medichines. Large outbreaks can even cause serious damage to the Hab.
While hemophilia is not technically a pathogen medical condition, "pyrophoric" hemophilia is - caused by a tailored virus which afflicts the blood and skin. It causes increased sensitivity to natural sunlight and other UV light sources, and the virus itself lurks in the blood and when exposed to light and oxygen, it bursts into flame, hence "pyrophoric". Weather this is a genuine bioweapon or simply a research project gone wrong is unknown, outbreaks of PH appear mostly in isolated brinker communities. A character exposed to PH must make a DURx2 roll (and is immune if they have medichines) or become infected. Once infected, the character takes -10 to all tests when their skin is exposed to sunlight or other UV lights. If they suffer any DV from a weapon which would cause blood loss (such as a stab wound or gunshot), they suffer +1 DV from additional minor damage caused by the blood being inflamed, and if they suffer a Wound from such an attack, they and anyone who might come in contact with the blood must make an immediate REFx3 test or be set On Fire. PH can be cured by medichines or with specialized anti-virals. Basic Biomods do not remove it as it is a tailored virus which acts similar to many of the smart microbes already used by the system. [High]
Another "classic" test-tube virus, made in emulation of so many fictional diseases - this virus infects only humanoid biomorphs (no uplifts) and infests the nervous system, causing swelling of the brain, overactivity of certain glands and spikes in metabolism, all while attacking higher brain function. The result is that the subject becomes irritable, energetic, fevered and eventually is reduced to acting on base impulses and stimuli, much like the "zombies" of the fictional genre. Rage virus regularly mutates on it's own or it's profile is artificially altered by users, making it difficult for Basic Biomods to keep up. Those exposed to this bloodborne virus must make a DUR test, but are granted immunity by medichines (and if they have a cyberbrain, are also immune). If they succeed, the virus is either unable to properly infect them or they happen to be part of a morph line immune to that particular strain - they may feel feverish and experience headaches for a short period before returning to normal. Those who fail will begin to develop a fever and heavy breathing or muscle tension, and must make WILx2 tests to stay still, avoid attacking or showing aggression to others, destroying things or generally to remain calm and orderly, and they take 1d10 SV per hour as the virus works on their brain. When they reach their Lucidity, the victim is not rendered catatonic as normal, but instead becomes a functional "zombie", driven by aggression and basic impulses and lacking conscious cognitive ability. Such zombies are not deterred by pain, fear or rational responses, but are otherwise normal humans. Medichines or a dip in a healing vat will remove the virus, though some psychological counseling or psychosurgery may be needed to heal damage done to the psyche. Biomorphs with Endocrine Control (p. 304 EP) may suppress the emotional disturbances but not prevent the brain damage. Other than few easily contained but public outbreaks in particularly unclean slums in Earth Orbit, Mars and the Jovian Republic, there have not been any major outbreaks of this virus. [High]
Another case of bioengineering gone wrong (or rather, too right), Sewer Disorder is caused by a synthetic bacteria which is designed to rapidly break down organic waste in an efficient manner. Due to lack of naturally occurring decomposers in space, many environmental treatment and recycling units of habitats need artificial aid to keep recycling. However, these bacteria cause unfortunate side effects if humans ingest it, either through improperly filtered water, or insufficient insulation between "black" water systems and clean or grey water systems or ventilation. This means sewer disorder is a common occurrence in septic habs. The bacteria is so good at attacking waste, it attacks waste and even food inside the human digestive system, causing a reaction similar to food poisoning or stomach flu. Characters who ingest the bacteria make a DUR test (DUR x2 with Medichines). If they pass, they suffer minimal ill effects - suffering slight discomfort or fever before the bacteria is passed through their body. Those who fail, however, get the full reaction, and are effectively incapacitated for the next 16-24 hours with stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting and other gastro-intestinal distress. Double this time on a critical failure.
Named from a fictional virus with a similar origin, Shiva is an enhanced and altered form of the Ebola virus. This increases its latency, mutation and end lethality, meaning it kills an average of 80% of people it properly infects. while having a longer infectious period before killing. However, it's own mutability is its downfall, Shiva mutates rapidly from it's "factory" standard, which quickly alters its parameters and often limits the effect of the virus. Characters exposed to Shiva roll a DUR test (Medichines are immune). If they succeed, they are still infected, but the damage is survivable - they should suffer a DUR penalty of 5 and take a -10 on all actions as if from a wound for 7 days, minus a day for each full 10 MoS. Only on a critical success is a character fully immune, and should not test again for this strain of Shiva. Those who fail suffer the full effect of the virus; kidney and liver damage, rashes, vomiting and internal and external hemorrhage, after a brief latency period of 3-6 days (during which they are still infectious). Then they suffer 1d10/2 DV per hour (ignoring armor) until they die, or 7 days plus 1 day for each full 10 MoF has passed, and have a -30 penalty as if from Wounds during this time. Healing Vats can repair damage and prevent death from Shiva, but the only way to cure it is developing an antiviral for that specific strain - which takes time and research. Shiva can be vaccinated against. It was first developed by preservationist ecoterrorists to distribute on Mars and through the Martian Gate, but Oversight was able to locate and contain the terrorists and the disease before it was activated - though its details have since leaked onto the Mesh. GMs may adjust damage, latency and difficulty of the virus to reflect specific strains as needed. [Expensive]
Silverlung is a medical condition which is not a pathogen, but is caused by microscopic things. This condition takes the form of lung and other respiratory damage which is caused by repeated inhalation of nanoparticles - either in the form of a nanoswarm or a nanotech device which is exposed to the open air. While most nanobots either do not directly interact with organic components or are programmed not to, they still are physical mass which can enter the lungs. When they do inert, they begin to degrade and leave behind a residue which can accrue over time and cause damage. It is most common among bug doctors and engineers who utilize industrial fabrication or repair spray. Silverlung takes months or years to develop - those who have it suffer from -5 to -10 penalties to max DUR, and take -10 on activities which involve extended physical exertion. Silverlung can be counteracted with regular healing vat treatment or medichines. Synthmorphs with exposed joints can suffer a similar condition, usually called "greyjoint", "nano-arthritis" or "goo-lock", where the particulate residue damages or inhibits mechanical joints.
Named after the titular virus of the well-known cyberpunk novel, Snowcrash is a viral scorcher which acts about like you'd expect. When uploaded into a cyberbrain, it attacks linguistic centers of the brain, causing outbursts of glossolalia and causing mental confusion and fugue which may make the subject non-responsive. Those affected by it go catatonic for 1 Action Turn (3 Action Turns if the hacker scores a Excellent Success), then resume function as normal - except they have random outbursts of linguistic problems, which cause them to take -30 penalties to all social skills or other tests where they must communicate, and consider all their Language skills at half, as well as be prone to bouts of babbling, echopraxia or fugue (such as if they take a Trauma). Snowcrash is often distributed disguised as another file, such as random junk data, spam or image or video files - after it has been opened and the sub-program distributed, it is then activated with a "snow crash", a burst of random black and white pixels which generate an input to trigger the scorcher, similar to a backdoor. Snowcrash can be removed by a simple security audit. Rumors of a viral version of this disease which can be transmitted to biomorphs via infected blood are unconfirmed at this time. [High]
More formally called "Biomod-Resistant Rhinovirus" (BRR), the "Space Cold" emulates the common cold of human history, but is resilient enough to avoid or overcome immunity granted by Basic Biomods. Developed by genehackers and biosculpters in certain subcultures of Mars, the Space Cold and it's mutations have spread to exist in some form in most Martian areas and related habs - including a few instances on Qing Long. Exposure can come in a variety of forms, and those exposed must make a DURx2 test (Medichines are immune). If they pass, they are still infected but generally unhindered, the symptoms they suffer for 2-3 days are fairly minor and cause no mechanical penalty - only on a Critical Success is the subject properly immune. Failure means after a latency period of roughly 48 hours the subject begins to show symptoms: coughing, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, headache, and fever. They suffer -10 penalty to all actions, as if from a Wound, and penalties may increase based on other factors. This lasts for about 7 Days, +1 day for each full 10 MoF on the DURx2 test. It can also be cured by medichines, a healing vat, or a relatively inexpensive anti-viral.
Subject of many fiction stories, the "superflu" describes a broad category of viral infections caused by enhanced versions of the influenza virus. Superflu strains were developed and employed as a bioweapon in the "Hot" phase of the Fall, leading to several public epidemics which added to global panic and loss of life. After the Fall, there have been no serious outbreaks though samples of the disease are contained in many research facilities and hospital to develop vaccination. Superflu is aggressive and infectious enough to fight most versions of Basic Biomods, and is particularly damaging to the body - having a significant mortality rate, especially among the young, elderly or those who are previously unhealthy. Exposure through an infection vector requires a DURx2 test (medichines are immune) - those who pass suffer only minor effects which can easily be passed off as the "space cold" (see above) for 7 days, -1 day for each full 10 MoS. Only those who Critically Succeed are properly immune. Failure means the virus takes hold in the next 48 hours, causing high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, and tiredness. Depending on severity of the strain, this should inflict -10 to -30 penalties to all actions as if from Wound(s). This lasts for 7 days, + 1 day for each full 10 MoF. Severe or Critical failures indicate a particularly bad infection, which may also affect the young, old or those with preexisting medical conditions or weak immune systems. In this case, secondary effects, high fever and physical damage from symptoms cause the body to degrade and risk death - Reduce DUR by 5 each day until the subject dies or the infection passes. A healing vat can prevent further DUR damage, but does not remove the damage until the infection passes. Infection can be prevented by vaccination or Medichines, and counteracted with antiviral medication. [Expensive]
The exact origin of "Uplift Rabies" is unknown. Some claim it was developed by a bioconservative terrorist cell who did not think their actions through, others say it is a conspiracy by nonmammalian mercurials. Uplift Rabies take the form of an enhanced lyssavirus which causes normal Rabies symptoms - which has been enhanced to act faster and resist basic biomods. Transmitted through fluid transfer, UR will attack the central nervous system of the host, causing slight or partial paralysis, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, abnormal behavior, paranoia, terror, and hallucinations, progressing to delirium, and coma. Uplift Rabies is notable in one other respect, that while it will infect all mammalian entities, it reacts most aggressively and rapidly to the advanced neurochemistry present in transhumans, uplifts and smart animals. Characters exposed to the Virus must make a DUR test (Medichines are immune) - if they pass they are not properly infected and will suffer no ill effects. Those who fail become infected, and the virus will spread to the central nervous system over the next 30 days (Reduce time frame by 10% for each full 10 MoF). In this phase, it may be detected by medical diagnostics, and cured with specialized antiviral drugs or a healing vat. Once it reaches the CNS, the victim begins to show symptoms, where they suffer from unusual behaviors and delusions for 2-7 days before they fall into a coma and rapidly die. Characters at this stage must make WILx2 tests in order to perform any "normal" actions, otherwise they are at the whim of aggression, paranoia or hallucinations. Many also develop severe hydrophobia in this stage. Medical stasis can prevent death or further damage in this stage, but treatment requires extensive and expensive antiviral medication and more commonly morphs in this stage are discarded. Uplift Rabies can be prevented by medichines, and also by vaccination - small outbreaks of the disease have cause all major uplift developers to vaccinate "new" uplift lines but the medication is often denied to uplifts outside the corporate ecosystem. [Expensive]
Xenowomb is an exotic retrovirus which only infects female biomorphs. It infects the eggs of the morph, causing them to rapidly develop an unusual foetus - some are simple stilborn mutations, but others take the form of small dinosaurs, sharks, octopodes, or transgenic alien creatures, similar to Defiler exhumans. A majority of biomorphs are armed with basic biomods and thus internalized contraception, meaning the retroviral infection which can bypass this system often comes as a surprise - and is thus detected early and removed. The only situation where an unexpected pregnancy might suddenly occur normally is in an un-augmented Flat - leading some to conclude that Xenowomb was developed as a bioweapon to be used in terrorism against certain conservative catholic ideology, though there have been no publicly reported instances in the Jovian Republic. A susceptible biomorph who comes in contact with the virus rolls a DUR test (Medichines grant immunity, as does Endocrine Control). If they fail, the virus infects one or more eggs and triggers the faux pregnancy as the foetus develops at a rapid rate over the next 1-3 months (depending on the strain) where at the end it may be "born". Some forms grown by Xenowomb are intrinsically hostile and dangerous and may "tear" themselves free of the womb, causing severe damage (enough DV to automatically inflict 3 Wounds, ignoring armor) to the "mother". As noted, however, Xenowomb is remarkably easy to catch and fix in proper medical environment, and thus "successful" infections of it are incredibly rare - mostly related to urban legends on mesh forums or trashy daytime vid-streams. [Expensive]
(This is my 100th content entry on H-Rep. Thanks to all readers for reading, I'm happy with myself to have consistently done this much work.)