The Pokémon games are full of mysteries, which go beyond the legendary Pokémon and phenomenon of the natural world. There is, however, one mysterious occurrence that is so rare many players don’t even know it exists: Pokérus. The virus isn’t mentioned in game or promotional materials, leading some trainers who have encountered it to worry that they have encountered some kind of glitch or error — but its actually just a rare and beneficial occurrence.
Pokérus, short for “Pokémon Virus,” was introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver and has returned in most main series games since. The virus itself is incredibly rare to catch. While the odds vary between games, the odds of catching Pokérus are lower than encountering shiny Pokémon. It’s an incurable status effect that while may seem alarming at first, is actually very good to have and can spread to other Pokémon in a party and even eggs overtime. It doesn’t last forever though, so players should take advantage of it while they can.
In every game, Pokérus will cause an infected Pokémon’s Effort Values to double when battling, which is incredibly useful for training purposes. Different generations have included additional effects. For example, in Generation IV, Pokérus also doubled EVs earned from equippable Power items. Pokémon infected in Generation VI wouldn’t have their EV gains doubled from Super Training, but they would have an increased chance of gaining Double-Up Bags from participating. Most recently, in Pokemon Sword & Shield, Pokémon with Pokérus will earn double EVs went sent on Jobs that train those.
It’s easy to tell if a Pokémon has Pokérus, as there will say either “Pokérus” or “PKRS” next to its name on the status screen. There will also be a special icon that changes when it goes away. While, it can be temporarily overwritten on the menu by other status effects like poison or paralysis, its effects will persist.
Once infected, Pokérus will go away on its own after a couple days, though it can spread to others in the party and can even be passed onto an egg if an infected Pokémon is used for breeding. Pokérus can also be preserved by simply placing an infected Pokémon in a box. This is important not only because of how rare it is, but because once a Pokémon has caught the virus, it can never catch it again.
Additionally, catching Pokérus will trigger some unique dialogue, which differs between games. When taking an infected Pokémon to a Pokémon Center, the nurse will comment on it, saying that the player’s Pokémon appears to have microscopic life-forms on it. In Pokémon Gold and Silver and its remakes, Professor Elm will also call the player to comment on the virus and reassure them that it’s nothing bad. It was also briefly mentioned in the anime.
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While the thought of a Pokémon catching a disease may seem frightening, Pokérus is actually a good thing. The fact that it is so infrequently acknowledged by Game Freak and other official sources has increased it’s mysterious nature, but beyond its benefits for training, Pokérus’ rarity has made it something of a proud badge for trainers, similar to catching a Shiny.
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