Scenario: The Human Moon-Druid is the playful type, but she is so turned-off with the commitment issues that plague most humanoids when all she wants is to play. She gets this crazy idea: In order to get her playful fix, she Wild-Shapes into an animal, struts about town with pheromones all ablaze, play around with a matching animal, then go back to her team in her original form, and they're all none the wiser (hopefully).

However, she is concerned about catching some disease in this way, especially since she'd be having casual, no-strings-attached play with complete strangers.

Hence the question: If she manages to contract a mundane affliction while in Wild Shape, will it stay or go away when she steps out of Wild Shape?

My thinking is that mundane diseases/poisons should just go away. If physical wounds don't carry over (whether inflicted magically or not), why should these?


3 Answers 3


The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.

In this case, at least, the above is true. Since the wording for wild shape does not explicitly say conditions are removed/dispelled, and disease is a condition, that condition is not dispelled upon shifting back. It can then be surmised that status affects such as poisoned, blinded, etc, are also not removed upon shifting to and from wildshape, it can be easily concluded that those effects still persist in the original druid's form.

This is not to say a disease is a standard condition like poisoned, blinded, etc. But it is still a condition that persists on the player until the effect wears off, or is cured.

Diseases specify what creatures are affected by them. For example, Cackle Fever:

This disease targets humanoids, although gnomes are strangely immune.

Or Sight Rot:

This painful infection causes bleeding from the eyes and eventually blinds the victim. A beast or humanoid that drinks water tainted by sight rot must... etc.

After this point, the real question becomes does a mundane disease that affects a specific animal affect the druid in their humanoid form?

That goes into some science that is more theory than actual rules. So there's no easy way to say that a disease will or will not affect the druid in a different form. However, it could be said that the disease remains dormant in an unaffected or immune host, but when the host becomes a viable creature the disease persists. This is up to your DM at this point.

  • If the druid is considered their race in terms of biological susceptibility in wildshape or not, then the disease would always persist.
  • If the druid is not considered their race in terms of biological susceptibility in wildshape, then the disease would not persist, or would be quickly cleansed from an unsupported host.

One last observation from this can be taken from the text of Wild Shape:

You retain the benefit of any features from your class, race, or other source and can use them if the new form is physically capable of doing so.

Of course, biological susceptibility to a disease wouldn't exactly be considered a "benefit" but you could rule this to mean that if you are a Gnome you will, for the purposes of disease viability, be able to be infected as if you were a Gnome, no matter what beast you were taking the shape of.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer, and I quite agree with it (this was my RAI too). But is disease really a condition? It's not in the Conditions appendix, and Lesser Restoration separates it from the other conditions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pitzy
    Nov 17, 2015 at 8:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're correct, it isn't included with other conditions. I believe the reason behind that is because there are too many varied types of diseases, but the same could be said of poisons. The other reason could be that not all diseases share the same debuff on the player, whereas the "poisoned" effect is all-around disadvantage on attacks/saving throws, so it can be lumped into a condition. But the extra effects of poisons outside of that condition are varied. \$\endgroup\$
    – D. Sorrim
    Nov 17, 2015 at 8:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another data point -- the druid's racial and class features carry over into the wildshape form -- this includes the Dwarf's resistance to poisons, for example. It seems obvious that if the resistance to poisons carries over from humanoid form to wildshape form, the impact of any poisons carries back in the opposite direction as well. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17, 2015 at 19:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good to note. Thanks. I think it's covered well by my quote from the text of Wild Shape. But I can adjust it to address dwarven poison resistance. I will edit it later when I'm not at work. \$\endgroup\$
    – D. Sorrim
    Nov 17, 2015 at 20:03

Disease is a story-telling opportunity

Being diseased is not a condition in 5e. Each disease has its own particular rules and mechanics rather than being bound by an overall approach (DMG 256):

the specifics of how a disease works aren't bound by a common set of rules.

Further, 5e subverts with our real-world concept of infectiousness by explicitly stating that diseases might or might not pass between individuals of different types (ibid):

Diseases can affect any creature, and a given illness might or might not pass from one race or kind of creature to another. A plague might affect only constructs or undead, or sweep through a halfling neighborhood but leave other races untouched. What matters is the story you want to tell.

Of the three example diseases given in the DMG (257), Cackle Fever affects only non-gnome humanoids, Sewer Plague affects only humanoids but can be carried by beasts, and Sight Rot affects both humanoids and beasts. Thus your druid might be able to wild-shape her way out of the first two but not the third. The conditions imposed by the diseases (incapacitation and exhaustion) would carry over into the new form, since conditions specify what counters them, and in no case is that wild-shaping. Although many things remove diseases in general, transforming between different physical forms is not one of them. For diseases other than the three listed in the DMG, it would be entirely up to the DM and 'the story they want to tell' whether wild shaping would remove the disease or not (unless the rules description of the particular disease specifically said that it could affect beasts).

Your question seems to use 'play' as a euphemism for sexual activity, and thus your concern is whether your druid, if she contracts a sexually-transmitted disease while in her wild shape, would be healed or cured of such a disease when she returns to her humanoid form. None of the diseases listed in the DMG or Monster Manual specify that they are transmitted through sexual intercourse, and while I certainly don't have all 5e products I doubt that there are any diseases that are described that way. Thus, such diseases would only exist in the game if your DM wanted them there. Is your game of the sort in which the DM is telling stories about sexually-transmitted diseases? If not, then your druid needn't have that concern to begin with. If so, then your DM is the authority on whether such diseases get carried over between forms.


There is a reason reason why people might feel this way. The ruling for Wild Shape states that damage carries over into your normal form, when it overflows.

But another way to think about it is that damage hitting the shape actually vanishes if it doesn't overflow. The same could be said when you Wild Shape 2 times in one combat, and your beast form (which may look exactly the same as before) is at full hp. This would normally and logically constitute a separate body. However, this is not RAW.

Another thing that proves you aren't the bear is that you keep its physical stats, and in addition, you use its Hit Dice instead of your own if you manage to rest in that form.

A final point is that while some racial features carry, racial features like darkvision do not carry over when your shape changes. This is all PHB.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer would benefit greatly from formatting to separate ideas and apply emphasis. \$\endgroup\$
    – ValhallaGH
    Jul 26, 2021 at 22:16

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