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Project Zomboid infections: how do infections, illnesses, and injuries work?

Learn more about infections, illness, and injuries in Project Zomboid

Want to know more about infections in Project Zomboid? In a world filled with zombies, infection is a word that sparks fear in even the bravest of people. Project Zomboid has plenty of ways for you to get ill and yes, even turn into a zombie. While infections can be life-threatening (in some cases, they spell guaranteed death), others aren’t so troublesome. In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about infections in Project Zomboid, while also covering various types of illnesses and injuries that you can get while trying to survive the apocalypse.

What are the different kinds of infection in Project Zomboid?

There are many ways to get ill in Project Zomboid. The Knox Infection is obviously the worst, as it causes zombification, and isn’t curable. Other illnesses that can lead to infection symptoms and make you ill are:

  • Food poisoning (also caused by drinking tainted water)
  • Colds
  • Wound infections

If you rest a lot and continue to eat and drink edible substances, food poisoning and colds will pass with time. Wound infections are a little more complicated so we'll cover them more later in this guide, but they don’t necessarily spell death either. However, as mentioned above, the Knox Infection is always fatal and will cause you to become a zombie upon death. Scratches, lacerations, and bites inflicted by a zombie can make you contract the Knox Infection.


What is a scratch in Project Zomboid?

Scratches are minor injuries that you can get in a variety of ways. You might get scratched by shards of glass on the floor or when climbing through a broken window, for example. Scratches will bleed and cause your health to decrease, but you can fix them using bandages or ripped sheets. If you receive a scratch from a zombie this is much more dangerous, as it carries a 7% chance that you will turn into a zombie.

Project Zomboid player standing in a street next to two dead zombies after a battle. The health panel displayed on the left shows that the player suffered a laceration and is bleeding

What is a laceration in Project Zomboid?

A laceration is more severe in Project Zomboid, as it will lead to more blood loss and a much quicker death. Lacerations are caused in the same way as scratches, but they are far worse. There’s a 25% chance that lacerations caused by the undead will give you the Knox Infection and lead to zombification.


What happens if you get bitten in Project Zomboid?

Unfortunately, bites always mean death in Project Zomboid. Bites will infect you with the Knox Infection and make you reanimate upon death. This is a slow process that will cause your character to deteriorate over days until they eventually die. There is no way to avoid infection when you are bitten, so we recommend using the following days to prepare for your next character by stockpiling food and medicine in your base. If you choose to start a new character in a different world (rather than continuing on the same world and finding your previous base), you should quit when bitten and restart. Unless you want to watch your untimely death play out over the next hour or so, of course.

Project Zomboid player stands in a building covered in blood. He has several lacerations and zombie scratches. The moodlets indicate he is becoming a zombie, as he is nauseous but no infection is listed.

How to know if you are infected in Project Zomboid

You can see your current health status by going to the medical panel, which you can open by clicking the heart on the left side of the screen. In the medical panel, you will see your character’s body split into sections for each limb and body part. If you have an injury on a particular area of the body, it is listed in this health menu. If you have a wound that gets a general infection, this will also appear next to the injury.

If you have received a scratch, laceration, bite, or any other type of injury in Project Zomboid, it is listed in this health menu. However, it will not tell you if you have contracted the Knox Infection and are being zombified. Fortunately, there are telltale signs of the Knox Infection that you should look out for.

If you get sickness moodles after suffering a zombie scratch, laceration, or bite, and it doesn't list it as infected in the health menu, it’s very likely that you are turning into a zombie and have days left at most. If it does say infected, that means you have a general wound infection that you can cure. Of course, food poisoning can also cause sickness moodles, so try not to eat raw or rotten food. If you are sick and have food poisoning, hide in your base and stay well-fed, hydrated and rested. The sickness will eventually pass.


Sickness moodles in Project Zomboid

There are four different sickness moodles in Project Zomboid:

  • Queasy
  • Nauseous
  • Sick
  • Fever

These are essentially a roadmap to ill health, showing how your character can deteriorate when ill in Project Zomboid. You can receive these moodles from food poisoning, colds, zombification, and the Hypochondriac trait. If you have received a scratch or laceration from a zombie, one of these moodles could indicate that you have contracted the zombie infection. As you progress through these moodles from queasy to fever, your character will lose health faster and become much weaker.

Project Zomboid player after turning into a zombie

How to cure an infection in Project Zomboid

As mentioned above, the zombie infection cannot be cured. If you see sickness moodles and do not have food poisoning or a general infection listed in the health menu, but you do have a scratch, laceration, or bite from a zombie, you are infected and will die.

Fortunately, if you know it is just a general infection that wasn’t caused by a zombie, you can cure it. When you first receive a cut or laceration (from handling broken glass, for example), immediately disinfect the wound with alcohol wipes or disinfectant. After disinfecting, bandage the injury. You can use sterilized bandages or rags to lower the chance of infection. If you still receive an infection, take antibiotics to fight it. These types of infections are easy to overcome and don’t lead to death unless left unattended. If you’re just starting out and don’t have any of these medical supplies, a simple ripped sheet should be enough to act as a basic bandage and treat a wound. Make sure to regularly change your bandage, as dirty bandages or sheets will cause infection. You'll see when bandages become dirty in your health panel, at which point you should change them instantly. Monitor your health panel frequently when wearing a bandage to ensure an infection doesn't develop.

All of these actions can be performed by either using the items in your inventory, or going to the health menu and right-clicking on the specific injury that you want to treat. If you need to change a dirty bandage, this can also be done from the health menu. Remove the dirty bandage and then apply a new covering to the same area.

You can remove bullets and glass shards with similar methods. First, you'll need to use tweezers to pull out the fragment in your wound. Then, disinfect the wound, stitch it with a needle and thread and wrap it in a bandage.


How to cure a cold in Project Zomboid

Like food poisoning, colds are not caused by open wounds and injuries. Instead, you can catch a cold like in real life, by going outside in cold weather or walking around in wet clothes for a long time. You will know if you have a cold, as there are associated moodles and your character will start to cough or sneeze. These are the moodles associated with a cold:

  • Runny nose
  • The sniffles
  • You have a cold
  • You have a nasty cold

A runny nose and sniffles will make you occasionally sneeze and can develop further if untreated. The cold and nasty cold moodles will make you sneeze and cough, while also lowering movement and healing speed.

To cure a cold, you must simply eat plenty of food and avoid getting wet or cold again. Eventually, the symptoms will pass and your character will feel healthy. If you currently have cold symptoms, be careful when exploring. Coughs and sneezes are unavoidable and will attract nearby zombies if you don’t equip a tissue to make them quieter. This can quickly create a horde and get you killed, so while colds might not seem especially risky, they can get you into deadly scenarios.

If you want some tissues to muffle the sound of your coughs and sneezes, you can usually find them in bathroom cupboards, so head to suburban areas and look around inside various houses. You can use a new tissue to cover 10 sneezes or coughs before it breaks and you need to equip a new one. You can also find used tissues in cars and bins, but these will spawn with a lower durability.

Project Zomboid player surrounded by zombie corpses. Player's leg is fractured after jumping out of a high window to escape a horde

How to heal a fracture in Project Zomboid

So far we've spoken about infections, illnesses and colds that you catch or contract. However, some injuries are much more obvious. For example, if you fall from a high window, ledge, or crash a car, you might get a fracture. Fractures will make your health decrease until healed. If you have a fractured arm, you won't be as efficient in combat, while fractured legs will make you move much slower.

To heal a fracture in Project Zomboid, you need to craft a splint. You can do this in the crafting menu. To make a splint, you need to combine a ripped sheet with either a tree branch, sturdy stick, or wooden plank. Tree branches are the easiest to find early in the game, as they'll frequently pop up when foraging.


How to heal a burn in Project Zomboid

Another physical injury you can sustain in Project Zomboid is a burn. Burns can be extremely dangerous, as your health will drain rapidly while near fire. Fortunately, it's relatively easy to recover from a burn. Simply bandage the burn as fast as possible and change the bandage whenever necessary, as you would with a wound. It takes a long time to recover from a burn, but just changing the bandage regularly should be enough to get you back to full health.


That covers everything you need to know about getting illnesses, injuries and infections in Project Zomboid. If you're looking for more tips and tricks for surviving the apocalypse, check out our Project Zomboid beginner's guide. You can also take a look at our list of the best survival games on PC for 2022 if you want more base-building and weapon crafting.

About the Author
Hayden Hefford avatar

Hayden Hefford

Guides Writer

Zombies. Walkers. Shamblers. Whatever you call them, Hayden is definitely a fan. He can usually be found in front of a screen, playing the latest survival games and trying to hide from the real world. His eyes haven't turned square yet, but the possibility is certainly scary.

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