The Zombie Virus

With zombie films and games explaining zombie viruses, we've pretty much exhausted the number of ways zombies can be created. A virus is a real possibility, and there are several kinds to currently worry about:

Rabies

A fictional version of this virus is seen in the movies 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later as the Rage Virus.

Rabies affects the central nervous system and causes these symptoms:

  • eye discoloration
  • insomnia
  • paranoia
  • confusion
  • hallucinations
  • makes the victim act aggressively
  • makes the person want to bite everything

Sound familiar yet?

Ebola

Another fictional version of a virus, seen in the film, The Crazies. Does pretty much the same thing rabies does. Symptoms are similar to rabies. Both the ebola and the rabies viruses can transmit through saliva...biting, anyone? Sounds like zombies to me.

Neurotoxins

Not a virus, but...

The original way to make a zombie, with tetrodoxotin and datura, poison powders that basically turn you into a pile of mush.

The best example I can give you is from the movie The Serpent and the Rainbow, which is based off of Dr. Wade Davis's findings. However, there is no aggressiveness in this method, just stupor.

Brain parasites

Also not a virus, but it could very well create a zombie!

Toxoplasma Gondii is known specifically to affect the brain patterns of rats. They throw themselves at cats to try to get eaten...

This parasite breeds in cat intestines, so it does anything it can to get the rat to lose its fear of cats and leave itself out in the open to get picked up and eaten.

Parasites in general usually try to get inside larger animals, so they will control the insect or animal's brain to get it to essentially commit suicide and get eaten by a larger animal.

Resident Evil 4 used this idea for zombies, and you can see that especially later on in the game when you shoot a zombie's head and an octopus-like creature comes out of it.

It's only a matter of time until parasites figure out how to control us...

Solanum

Yes it's a fictional virus, but it's mentioned in The Zombie Survival Guide, so it bears mentioning. It stops the victim's heart and mutates the brain cells in the frontal lobe. The virus does not require oxygen to survive, and after death, neither does the victim.

Solanum can only be contracted by direct contact, either from open wounds, blood, or saliva of the victim, and must enter the eyes, mouth, or an open wound. It is 100% fatal if contracted.

A zombie virus could very well happen; these are all very real possibilities. Be on the lookout for anything in the news about mutated viruses or people with zombie-like symptoms!

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis

Ok, so this isn't a virus, it's a fungus, but the way in which this fungus affects ants makes the infected ants popularly known as "zombie ants."

What it does is the fungus enters the ant, starts to eat its soft tissues, and then starts affecting its brain.

The fungus makes the ant fall from the tree it's in, start convulsing, and then clamp itself onto a leaf and then hold still, while the fungus eats the ant from the inside out until it's dead.

The fungus sprouts out of the ant's head and then releases spores.

What really makes this sound like zombies is that other ants will recognize when another ant is infected, and they will carry that ant away from the colony to avoid spreading the infection.

Fungal infections are harder to spread than bacterial infection, but it's still something to think about.


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