From the Mailbox “Real Zombies?”

Posted by on January 29, 2011 in From The Mailbox | 3 comments

This was a question sent to me via my mailbox. If you have any suggestions, questions or comments, you can leave your own here.

Monicks asks: Do you think that it could be possible that some sort of virus/bacteria could actually turn sane healthy people into contagious brain-eating zombies?

This is something that I’ve often wondered myself. I think I would have to say “Yes it is possible, but not necessarily how we see it in the movies.”

Think about it, what would be required for people to become contagious brain-eaters? Firstly we need a virus that sends someone insane, something contagious. Rabies is a good example of this, which causes a swelling of the brain, and causes animals to lash out violently. Wikipedia says this about Rabies:

The virus is usually present in the nerves and saliva of a symptomatic rabid animal. The route of infection is usually, but not always, by a bite. In many cases the infected animal is exceptionally aggressive, may attack without provocation, and exhibits otherwise uncharacteristic behavior.

Let’s say then, we have a mutant strain of the rabies virus, one which has a very short incubation period, let’s say half an hour. Let’s call this strain Z-rabies. During the incubation period, the victim falls into a coma-like state, while the virus takes hold. The victim’s body seems to shut down, the heart-rate decreases and weakens, and breathing is barely detectable.

Let’s say that one of the symptoms of Z-rabies is that the person infected has a overwhelming urge to attack the heads of other humans. Much like the common cold virus presents itself in the human throat and nose, the best place for it to spread via sneezes and coughs due to inflammation and irritation, this virus best spread via contact with the blood in the scalp (it’s a stretch I know, but you did say “possible”).

Let’s say that another symptom of Z-rabies is a dulling of the nerves, much like leprosy. If the environment were right, and infections in flesh went untreated, we could see z-rabies infected people with limbs and skin falling from their bodies, much like the classic zombies in the movies. With the dulling of the nerves also comes the dulling of pain, so they could continue like this for some time.

And finally, let’s say the Z-rabies virus causes cataracts in the eyes of those who are exposed to it. It also causes a constricting of the throat, making every breath a wheeze.

And VOILA! We have a brain-eating contagious, back from the (nearly) dead, rotting, moaning, shuffling zombie that wants to kill you.

Don’t forget, if you want me to answer your question, or have a topic you’d like to see me cover on the blog, send me a message here. And stay tuned for more “From the Mailbox” coming soon to this blog!

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