Rise of zombie infections should be a wake-up call for global community, says expert

December 14, 2015, British Medical Journal

Better funding and cooperation by the international community is needed to prevent a zombie apocalypse, argues a US expert in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

Tara Smith, Associate Professor at Kent State University in Ohio says emerging infections have been identified around the globe and, though sporadic, are becoming a source of greater concern to the medical and public health community.

Yet little formal study has been carried out into the the infections that may result in zombification. She therefore provides an overview of zombie infections and suggestions for research investment in order to prevent a zombie apocalypse.

Though the properties of zombies may vary, what unites many outbreaks is a disease that is spread via bite, explains Smith. Of infectious causes proposed, the Solanum virus has been the most extensively studied. "It has a 100% mortality rate, and if exposed to fluids of an infected individual, zombification is certain."

Non-viral zombie causes include a form of the Black Plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, the cordyceps fungus, and a mutated strain of the prion infection, commonly known as "mad cow" disease.

Symptoms of infection during a zombie outbreak tend to be fairly uniform, regardless of the nature of the pathogen, says Smith. The incubation period is highly variable, with development of symptoms ranging from mere seconds to hours or days.

Other symptoms may include a shambling gait, tendency to moan, loss of dexterity and prior personality traits, and the eventual rotting of flesh, she adds. In rare cases, zombies may be highly intelligent and self-aware, and lacking in the typical bite-and-flesh-eating tendencies.

Due to the rapid onset of zombie outbreaks and their society-destroying characteristics, prevention and treatment is a largely unexplored area of investigation, notes Smith.

She also points out that "equilibrium with the zombie infection is rarely achieved" and believes that the documented rise of multiple zombie pathogens "should be a wake-up call to the international community that we need additional funding and cooperation to address these looming apocalyptic disease threats."

The Zombie Survival Guide 2003 notes: "At this rate, attacks will only increase, culminating in one of two possibilities. The first is that world governments will have to acknowledge, both privately and publicly, the existence of the living dead, creating special organizations to deal with the threat. In this scenario, zombies will become an accepted part of daily life - marginalized, easily contained, perhaps even vaccinated against. A second, more ominous scenario would result in an all-out war between the living and the dead..."

For the sake of humanity, "we must ensure that the latter scenario does not occur," says Smith, "and that we work together as a unified global community to respond quickly to any and all new zombie threats."

Explore further: The zombie-ant fungus is under attack, research reveals

More information: Zombie infections: epidemiology, treatment, and survival in the event of a zombie apocalypse, www.bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bmj.h6423

Related Stories

The zombie-ant fungus is under attack, research reveals

May 2, 2012
A parasite that fights the zombie-ant fungus has yielded some of its secrets to an international research team led by David Hughes of Penn State University. The research reveals, for the first time, how an entire ant colony ...

Zombie outbreak? Statistical mechanics reveal the ideal hideout

February 25, 2015
A team of Cornell University researchers focusing on a fictional zombie outbreak as an approach to disease modeling suggests heading for the hills, in the Rockies, to save your 'braains' from the 'undead.'

ZomBee Watch helps scientists track honeybee killer

October 9, 2015
Call them "The Buzzing Dead."

UK brains under threat?

October 26, 2011
The British appetite for zombies is becoming a growing trend. From computer games and films to organised zombie walks though Britain's cities, the proliferation of zombies seems to be everywhere. Yet, this high interest in ...

1st 'zombie' bees on East Coast found in Vt. (Update)

January 28, 2014
Vermont beekeepers say they face mite infestations, extreme temperature swings and the possibility of colony collapse. But a San Francisco State University professor says a new threat has arrived in Vermont: zombie bees.

Researchers discover "zombie solar cells" that generate power even after electrolyte evaporation

October 9, 2015
A group of researchers at Uppsala University has discovered a "zombie solar cell" that continues to generate electricity with unexpected effectiveness although the liquid transferring charges between the electrodes has dried ...

Recommended for you

Researchers a step closer to understanding how deadly bird flu virus takes hold in humans

November 19, 2018
New research has taken a step towards understanding how highly pathogenic influenza viruses such as deadly bird flu infect humans.

Infants born to obese mothers risk developing liver disease, obesity

November 16, 2018
Infant gut microbes altered by their mother's obesity can cause inflammation and other major changes within the baby, increasing the risk of obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease later in life, according to researchers ...

New study shows NKT cell subsets play a large role in the advancement of NAFLD

November 16, 2018
Since 2015 it has been known that the gut microbiota could have a direct impact on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which affects up to 12% of adults and is a leading cause of chronic liver disease. In the November ...

Antibiotic prescribing influenced by team dynamics within hospitals

November 15, 2018
Antibiotic prescribing by doctors is influenced by team dynamics and cultures within hospitals.

Discovery suggests new route to fight infection, disease

November 14, 2018
New research reveals how a single protein interferes with the immune system when exposed to the bacterium that causes Legionnaires' disease, findings that could have broad implications for development of medicines to fight ...

New research aims to help improve uptake of hepatitis C testing

November 14, 2018
New research published in Scientific Reports shows persisting fears about HIV infection may impact testing uptake for the hepatitis C Virus (HCV).

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.