Lycanthropy, also known as werewolfism, the curse, the bite, or a myriad of other names, is the phenomenon characterized by a transforming into a werewolf over time, caused by a bite or scratch, or transmitted sexually, from an affected individual or werewolf to a healthy human.
The transformation coincides with the full moon, during which transformation from a human into a werewolf is complete. Lycanthropy affects each individual differently. Although it has many causes, in the Ginger Snaps series, lycanthropy caused by an unknown agent that is spread by a werewolf (or person who was infected but has not fully transformed) vector and apparently causes symptomatic effects only in humans.
The disease appears supernatural in origin, but the agent is possibly a virus (note, however, that a virus that could be a candidate for being the lycanthropy agent has not yet been isolated from patients). The method of transmission is from werewolves to humans. Lycanthropy is only spread through bites, possibly scratches, and does not exhibit airborne or droplet transmission ability, meaning that the virus could concentrate in the victim's saliva as in rabies. However, transmission over the course of the werewolf transformation is unknown: does infectivity increase as an infected person develops more werewolf qualities?
The virus gradually affects the body, first by minor physical changes and behavior changes, then a rapid transformation into a werewolf. Interestingly, the lycanthopy disease may have a correlation with the full moon cycle, where if a person is infected on a day not on a full moon, full transformation takes place at the next full moon. In addition, the disease exhibits latent effects which may correspond to the full moon (where the closer to the full moon, the more the disease takes effect- otherwise, the patient may be asymptomatic if several days away from the next full moon).
The origin of the agent is hypothesized to be a virus that is unlike any known to modern medical science, resulting extreme morphisms and behavioral changes in the patient. Lycanthropy may possibly be supernatural in origin. Contrary to supernatural folklore, a person who is infected with lycanthropy and has transformed into a werewolf is not immortal and can be killed with standard ways that can kill regular humans (gunshots, severe blunt damage by a van, impaling by a knife, etc).
Recognition in medical science
Lycanthropy is not recognized in most medical knowledge bases, and different people experience different effects from transformation, depending on genetics, gender and possibly personality. However, clinical lycanthropy, or the rare psychiatric condition where a person believes they are transforming or are in the body of an animal, is listed. For lycanthropy, its effects are seen based on first-hand accounts or from film documentaries. Whether lycanthropy is a real disease is uncertain.
Signs and symptoms
Transformation appears to be a rapid process overall. There is no formal diagnostic criteria for lycanthropy; however, listed are all signs and symptoms seen in patients. Frequency is unknown because of the small sample size and few first-hand accounts- also, lycanthropy is terminal, meaning the number of people infected is often unknown, as werewolves are dangerous to be rounded up for study.
It is important to note that signs and symptoms of infection vary widely among humans and between the sexes of males and females, but typically start off slowly with smaller physical and mental changes, which accelerate into larger changes. Lycanthropy apparently is irreversible and ultimately results in a complete transformation from human to werewolf in 100% of all people affected. There is no known cure; however, monkshood is an experimental treatment for slowing down the disease progression.
|Minor Sign & Symptom Observations||Disease Description||Major Sign and Symptom Observations||Disease Description|
|Hypertrichosis||Overgrowth of hair||Compulsive sexual behavior (Hypersexuality)||Increased libido and risky sexual activities|
|Hematuria||Blood presence in urine||Leukotrichia||Whitening of hair|
|Hypomania||Persistent disinhibition (lack of restraint) and mood elevation (euphoria)||Hallucinations||A perception of having seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled something that wasn't actually there|
|Menorrhagia (in women)||Heavy menstruation||Delusions
||Delusions: belief or altered reality that is persistently held despite evidence or agreement to the contrary
|Vasovagal syncope||Fainting or passing out||Sadism
||Sadism: deriving pleasure from harming others
Zoosadism: deriving pleasure from harming/killing animals
|Agitation (restlessness)||Inability to rest||Edentulism followed by polyodontia (with canine teeth)||Edentulism: loss of teeth
Polyodontia: excess presence/growth of teeth
|Emesis||Action of vomiting||Proteus syndrome||Severe disfigurement from hypertrophy and hyperplasia of tissues|
|Sleeplessness||Minor disturbance in sleep patterns, inability to fall asleep||Splanchnomegaly (uncertain if occurs in lycanthropy)||Abnormal enlargement of organs|
|Parasomnia||Frequent nightmares and anxiety from sleeping||Mania||Extremely elevated and excitable mood|
|Hyperonychia||Overgrowth (hypertrophy) of nails||Insomnia (uncertain if occurs in lycanthropy)||Persistent problems falling and staying asleep|
|Acne vulgaris||Known as common acne, a long-term skin disease that occurs when dead skin cells and oil from the skin clog hair follicles||Regeneration and accelerated healing||Regeneration: regrowth of lost body parts/organs|
|Hyperacuity of the senses
||Excess augmentations (increases) in vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, respectively|
|Photophobia (uncertain if occurs in lycanthropy)||Intolerance of bright lights, especially flashes|
|Schizoaffective disorder (uncertain if occurs in lycanthropy, and disorder is diagnosed by the following combination of signs and symptoms)
||See disease symptoms with definitions above. Disorder is characterized by cycles of severe symptoms followed by periods of improvement|
|Progeria (uncertain if occurs in lycanthropy)||Accelerated aging|
|Aggression||Form of physical or verbal behavior leading to self-assertion|
|Hypermetabolism (uncertain if occurs in lycanthropy)||Elevated resting energy expenditure|
|Heterochromia iridum (imprecise term for changing eye colors seen in lycanthropy patients)||Differences in iris eye color|
|Neoplastic growth||Development of tumors|
|Gigantism (in children) and acromegaly (in adults)||Overgrowth of limbs and facial features due to excess hormone production|
Known minor and moderate changes include hypertrichosis (an overgrowth of hair), hematuria (blood in urine), hypomania, and for women, menorrhagia (heavy menstruations). Lycanthropy- slowly at first then rapidly- progresses to major and severe changes, including hypersexuality, leukotrichia (whitening of the hair), hallucinations, megalomania, zoosadism (causing harm to animals), and edentulism (loss of teeth) followed by polyodontia (increased number of teeth- in this case, the growth of canine teeth).
Uncertain conditions include photophobia, progeria, and splanchnomegaly.
There does not appear to be a permanent cure. Palliative care is necessary, and only a temporary treatment that delays the lycanthropy disease is available. Monkshood appears to be a viable way to slow the effects of lycanthropy; Brigitte Fitzgerald times her injury healing rate, which, despite her using of regular doses of monkshood, accelerates, meaning that the monkshood cure effects decline in effect over time. However, it appears that if intervention is not used, then the body rejects further doses of monkshood and no longer works.