Death can come quickly in Project Zomboid. Sure, the zombies are the most obvious threat, the one that usually ends a survivor’s story, but an untreated cut can kill a survivor just as easily as the undead hordes. Untreated wounds can kill through blood loss, debilitate a survivor and make them easy prey, or make them contract illnesses. If you want to survive in Knox County, you need to know how to deal with injuries as well as how to inflict them.
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Zombie infection or the common cold?
First things first, you need to know how to identify illnesses. Failing to treat a normal illness is pretty much suicide, but if you’re infected with the zombie virus, that’s your only option left. The only problem is it’s difficult to tell the difference between a cold and impending zombification.
Also Read: What To Do If You Get Bitten
If your character has taken ill, it will be shown as a moodle in the top right of your screen. These moodles indicate how your survivor is feeling, whether that be sick or well-fed. This will be how you determine whether you’ve contracted the zombie virus or a survivable illness. To be specific, you should look for the Anxious and Queasy moodles, with In Pain coming later. If you see this series of moodles starting with Anxious, you’d better write your last will and testament – you’re almost certainly infected with the zombie virus.
The moodles will first show up about a day after a potential zombie infection. Another tell of the zombie virus is your health dropping fast. The good news is that if you haven’t been injured recently, you can rule this out. The bad news is that if you have, you’re done. There is no way to treat the zombie infection, and as long as the devs don’t change tack in future updates, this isn’t going to change. Stash your gear and take yourself out, hopefully your next survivor can last longer.
If you haven’t been bitten or scratched recently, or you don’t have the telltale signs of a zombie infection, any sickness indicates a normal illness. While these illnesses can be debilitating in their own right, they can be treated fairly easily.
Preventing infection in Project Zomboid
Treating an illness is all well and good, but the best way to deal with illness is to prevent it entirely. There are a few ways you can get sick, not counting the obvious zombie vector, and a few ways to protect yourself. They are common sense, but can be easier said than done in the midst of societal collapse.
Dress your wounds
Sooner or later, you’re going to get hurt. Of course, zombies can wound you, but there are plenty of other ways to give your survivor a thrashing. Diving through a broken window, charging through the woods, tripping while sprinting, and playing with fire are all great ways to take a few chunks out of a character. Left alone, they can also spell their end before long.
To avoid infection, you should quickly dress your wounds. First off, you’ll need to disinfect them. You can use sterile wipes, bottles of disinfectant, and even alcohol in a pinch, though it will be a bit less effective. You can even craft natural healing balms with a high enough medical skill. Grab whatever you have at hand, open up your character’s health tab, then right-click your wound and apply the disinfectant. Keep in mind that this won’t help with a bite, that has a 100% zombie infection chance and is a death sentence. No exceptions.
Once you’ve disinfected your wounds, the next step is to bandage them. The longer you leave it open, the more chance it has to get infected. It’ll also slowly bleed you to death, which would be unfortunate. Thankfully, there are loads of options for bandaging wounds. There are medical-grade bandages, like the adhesive bandage, but these can be hard to come by. While on the move, it’s often best to apply a field dressing in the form of ripped clothing instead. Simply grab a few clothes, curtains, or anything else that can be ripped into sheets. Right-click them in your inventory and click “Rip Clothing”. You’ll have a bunch of sheets to use as bandages.
Dressing your wounds is a repetitive process. You’ll need to periodically remove your dirty bandages, re-sterilize your wounds, then apply a fresh bandage. Poorer quality bandages, like ripped sheets, will get dirty faster, so you’ll need to change them regularly. You can wash dirty bandages with water though, so you don’t have to throw them away. It’s a good idea to head back home and apply a better quality dressing, then get some rest. If you’ve treated your wounds well, you’ll avoid any illnesses or infections, and they’ll heal up over time. You can also reduce the chance of damage breaking the skin by taking the Thick-Skinned trait during character creation.
Prepare for the weather
The second main cause of illness is the weather. The more time you spend in poor weather, either hot or cold, the more likely you are to get ill. This can be a real problem during winter, as catching a cold is extremely easy. To avoid this, and an embarrassing death thanks to a poorly-timed sneeze, you need to dress for the weather.
Preventing a cold is pretty self-explanatory in Project Zomboid. Your best bet during the winter is to bundle up and keep warm. Setting up a campfire in your base is a good idea, but using a generator is even better. Hot meals and drinks will also go far in warming you up and staving off a winter cold. Keep sweating to a minimum, as being wet is going to make your character feel the cold quite sharply.
Also Read: How To Hotwire a Car In Project Zomboid
Bad food is another way you can get sick in Project Zomboid. Having the Weak Stomach trait, while being good for points, will make food-related illnesses much more common. That said, food poisoning is fairly easy to avoid.
Food poisoning is possible when your character eats food that has gone bad. To prevent food poisoning, simply don’t eat that month-old hotdog or rotting rat carcass, no matter how good it looks. Food poisoning can put you out of commission for a while, and can even kill you since you won’t be able to stomach anything else. If you’ve got some rotten food on your hands, make a compost bin and throw it in there. You’ll be able to make some fertilizer that way, which will help massively when farming. Otherwise, stick to canned food and other non-perishables; food poisoning isn’t worth the risk.
Treating infection and illness in Project Zomboid
Even after taking all the preventative measures you can, your character will end up sick sooner or later. Whether it’s an infected wound, food poisoning, or the common cold, the treatment is pretty much the same – rest.
If your character becomes ill, you should head back to your safehouse as soon as possible and ride out the illness or infection. Eating lots of nutritious food is vital for a quick recovery, as the well-fed moodle boosts your character’s health. Having a high cooking skill can help with this, as preparing a good, hot meal is always better than snacking on whatever’s available. Hot drinks also seem to help with shaking a cold, so stock up on coffee and cocoa whenever you can. Most of all, avoid over-exerting your character, as doing so will likely make the illness worse. You might even develop a fever, which will seriously weaken your survivor and possibly even kill them. In that scenario, warm meals and a comfortable bed are all your only options. Hopefully, your symptoms will subside soon enough.
For infected wounds, treatment is to continue what you should have been doing already. Keep sterilizing the wound with disinfectant, then dressing it with clean bandages. Eventually, the infection will be killed off, and the wound will heal normally. That, or your survivor won’t be one anymore.
Illness and infection can be an easy and unceremonious way to die in Project Zomboid. Keep these tips in mind and stock up on medical supplies as and when you find them, and you’ll avoid a slow and boring death at the hands of a cold or a bad meal. Instead, you can enjoy a more fulfilling one at the hands of the undead horde, sooner or later.