10 Ways A Zombie Apocalypse Can Happen
Let’s face it: zombies are pretty awesome when they’re fictional. For decades, zombies have been a fixture in some of the most popular horror films and cult classics. In the 21st century, zombies also made their mark in video games and staggered their way into comedy films like Shaun of the Dead. The network, AMC, has been one to recently bank in on the popularity of zombies with the hit series, The Walking Dead, and the CDC even helmed a campaign on zombie preparation. All of this is good for a spook or even a giggle, but could a zombie apocalypse actually happen? Believe it or not, there are several things already in existence that threaten to manifest into what would have all the familiar symptoms of zombie mayhem in the not-so-distant future.
Several parasitic creatures and poisonous elements like neurotoxins have placed both insects and humans in zombie-like states. Moreover, certain illicit drugs have caused psychotic episodes where people have been caught literally eating the flesh off other human beings, and there has been several allegations of real-life zombie occurrences in places like Haiti. As the field of science continues to advance by leaps and bounds, groundbreaking developments — like stem cells — can actually lead to a reanimation of the dead or the creation of a zombie army if placed in the wrong hands. You may be surprised to also learn that a zombie-type apocalypse could take place even without the use of chemicals, neurotoxins, and/or the help of mad scientists. Let’s take a look at 10 ways a zombie apocalypse can happen. I hope you’re OK with not sleeping tonight.
You may be infected with toxoplasmosa gondii and not even realize it, as Cracked notes that “half the human population on Earth is infected with toxoplasmosa,” a brain parasite which primarily infects rats and breeds itself within a cat’s intestine. The creepy parasite basically “programs” rats to go on the weirdest suicide mission ever by making them rush into a hungry kitty’s gullet in order for the parasite to manifest. From there, the parasite works to rid its host of any type of “self-preservation or rational thought”. The reason that this parasite doesn’t have the same effect on humans is that it has not become evolved to the point of turning us all into mindless zombie-like beings. However, this is not to say that a group of scientists — and zombie enthusiasts — couldn’t alter the parasite in a way that would lead us all into a world that replicates scenes from Resident Evil 4. “Humans and rats aren’t all that different; thats why they use them to test our drugs. All it takes is a more evolved version of toxoplasmosa, one that could to do us what it does to the rats…If you’re comforting yourself with the thought that it may take forever for such a parasite to evolve, you’re forgetting about all the biological weapons programs around the world, intentionally weaponizing such bugs.” Yikes…
The Rage Virus
In 28 Days Later — otherwise known as that movie that forced you to sleep with the lights on for a straight week — a “rage virus” spreads across the globe, with one bite causing people to lose all rational thought and become enveloped by mindlessly murderous intentions. Although the film is fictional, there is an actual virus that has many symptoms which were illustrated in the zombie-centric film. The virus is mad cow disease, and when infected with said disease by eating diseased beef, humans can experience: “muscle twitching, delirium, changes in how the affected person walks. If mad cow disease got out of control and it turned our delirium into rage, and it could be transmitted by blood, well then, humans are just a bite away from a zombie apocalypse.” The disease creates such a semblance to zombie behavior, that president of Dark Continents publishing, David Youngquist, is actually perplexed as to how we haven’t already experienced a zombie-like outbreak. “A zombie apocalypse could happen. I’m honestly surprised something like this hasn’t happened already. You folks in Britain have Mad Cow Disease; in America we have Chronic Wasting Disease, which is similar, in our deer and elk herds. The parasite can be transferred to humans by consumption of undercooked meat. It wouldn’t take much to burn the human race down.” Am I the only one considering vegetarianism after reading that?
Stem Cell Research
While advancements in stem cell research have been noted as being key in positive attributions like cancer treatments and the like, there could be a macabre underbelly to the whole operation if placed in the wrong hands. As noted by ViralNova, stem cell research has now been advanced to the point that, “it will soon be possible for humans to regenerate decaying organs.” In certain scenarios, this could also be applied to the brain, but there would be one caveat: “For those not familiar with human neurology, the outer layers of brain contain the bits that make us human (memories, emotions, logic, etc.), while the inner layers (the brain stem) contain the bits that keep us alive and functioning (breathing, eating, heartbeat, etc.). Unless you’re reviving someone immediately, the outer layers of brain function will be too decayed to bring back.” Thus, there could be situations where an individual was “brought back to life”, but not as they once were. Instead, the revived would be a mindless, irrational, zombie-like creature. Cracked also notes that “all rights and responsibilities are terminated at death.” Let’s hope that no mad scientist with plots to helm their own zombie army gets their hands on any stem cells, eh?
Not only is cocaine illegal, addictive, and able to precipitate heart attacks, it can also apparently turn people into zombies. In fact, there was one incident where a man was caught eating the flesh off of a person’s face due to a cocaine-induced psychosis. According to The Mary Sue, “In May 2012, a man was shot in Miami having been found eating off the face of his victim. 31-year-old Rudy Eugene was said to be suffering from ‘cocaine psychosis’ which can cause violent, erratic, and paranoid behavior among heavy cocaine users. Eye-witness Larry Vega described Eugene as ‘like a zombie, blood dripping; it was intense.’
Eugene was shot dead at the scene, having been spotted chomping on his victim’s ears, nose and cheeks— even trying to gouge out his eyeballs. Recent medical reports suggest a connection between cocaine psychotic disorders, including cocaine-induced psychotic disorder, with delusions and cocaine-induced psychotic disorder with hallucinations.”
Don’t do drugs, kids. Seriously — you could turn into a zombie.
The CDC Has An Entire Section on “Zombie Preparedness”
Yes, the esteemed Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an entire section dedicated to preparing for a zombie apocalypse. If a treasured government entity is taking the concept of zombies seriously, shouldn’t we? To be fair, the CDC does note on their website that the campaign began as “a tongue in cheek campaign to engage new audiences”, but it has since become “a very effective platform” for those looking to prepare for an army of the undead. Even those who are skeptical of a zombie apocalypse coming to fruition can benefit from perusing the page, as many of the emergency planning strategies for zombie mayhem can also apply to other, more commonplace emergency scenarios, such as natural disasters like hurricanes and tornado. Some of the things the CDC advises people to have by way of supplies are:
- Food: Obviously you are going to need to have a vast supply of food, as treading to the supermarket could lead to peril with all those bloodthirsty zombies staggering around. The CDC advises stocking up on nonperishable items that have a lengthy shelf life to hold you over until one of the guys from The Walking Dead shows up or something.
- Medication & First Aid Supplies: Make sure to get those prescriptions refilled and stock up on over the counter medications as well. You obviously may also have to wind up playing doctor to yourself and others, as several actual doctors may either have turned into zombies or are nowhere to be found. Be sure to stock up on plenty of antiseptic products like rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, as well as bandages and gauze.
- Water: CDC recommends one gallon for each person each day.
- Tools and Supplies: As you may have to play doctor to yourself, you’ll also likely have to play plumber, electrician, door-sealer (to prevent the zombies from coming in), and the like. You’ll also want to have a can opener handy to open all those nonperishables.
- Radio: You’ll want to have a battery powered radio in case any newscasters have not fallen victim to zombies — and thus — may have some helpful updates for you and your family.
- Sanitation Supplies: Just because your days of gussying up for a night on the town — at least for a little while — are over doesn’t mean you can’t practice proper hygiene and grooming habits. Be sure to stock up on essentials like soap, detergent, toothpaste, and the like.
- Clothing and Bedding: As your nerves will likely be reaching a fevered pitch, it’s nice to have a fluffy comforter and some elegant fabrics to drape yourself in to somewhat quell the anxiety.
- Flashlights and Batteries: Lots and lots of batteries.
- Pertinent Documentation: The CDC recommends keeping a collection of important documents, including driver’s license, birth certificate, medical insurance cards, and passports. You never know when you may be able to make a hasty escape and flee to a country where zombies haven’t yet manifested.
- A Huge Wad Of Cash: I’m not sure what you’ll be buying during a zombie apocalypse (all of the stores probably would get looted pretty fast, and I doubt people would be coming into work during such a time), but the CDC recommends keeping a supply of cash.
Do you feel ready to face a zombie apocalypse yet? I sure do.
Nanobots are invisible, microscopic robots that can basically latch onto brain cells and take control of people’s minds, forcing them to do whatever the bots please. These invaders — much like cockroaches — can also multiply at rapid speed, meaning they could render any “host” they choose helpless and zombie-like. What makes this technology even more terrifying is that they can operate on the dead. According to Cracked, “Scientists have already created a nano-cyborg, by fusing a tiny silicone chip to a virus. The first thing they found out is these cyborgs can still operate for up to a month after the death of the host. Notice how nano scientists went right for zombification, even at this early stage. They know where the horror is.”
Studies have also found that nanobots could eventually have the ability to “rewire your thoughts”, meaning that if a nanobot decided “eat everyone’s brain” was a good thought to have, you’d be hardwired to follow that instruction. What happens when the host passes that whole “month after death” stage and the body the nanobots inhabited becomes — for lack of a better word — inhabitable? This is where things get even more synonymous to plot lines from Dawn of the Dead. “To preserve themselves, they’d need to transfer to a new host. Therefore, the last act of the nanobot zombie would be to bite a hole in a healthy victim, letting the nanobots steam in and set up camp in the new host. Once in, they can shut down the part of the brain that resists (the cortex) and leave the brain stem intact. They will have added a new member to the unholy army of the undead.”
Well, that’s just plain old terrifying.
Zombies May Already Exist In Haiti
There has been numerous reports related to a possible zombie population which resides in Haiti. After various stories had been spurred related to Haitian zombies, a comprehensive investigation was conducted in 1997 by an English medical journal. According to ViralNova, “Out of the three alleged zombies they studied, they concluded that none of them were actually zombies. One, they said, was suffering schizophrenia, and the other two were cases of mistaken identities. However, the study just looked at just three cases.There have been many more throughout history that no one has researched critically.” What about those cases, huh? WHAT ABOUT THOSE CASES?! Is it possible that an army of zombies are currently planning their takeover in Haiti? Mysterious Universe notes that voodoo and black magic are common in Haiti where zombies may or may not reside. In fact, it may have even been a common practice to zombie-ify (I just made that word up) the dead — or at times, the still living — in order to help pick up the slack when it came to labor. “The zombies of Haiti were said to be corpses that were reanimated through black magic by powerful voodoo priests or shamans, known as bokor, for various purposes but most commonly for manual labor. It was said that zombies were routinely employed to do slave labor on farms and sugarcane plantations.”
It is also said that voodoo sorcerers would often prey on those that had died from unnatural causes, such as murder, in order to create zombies to do their bidding. Apparently these particular souls were vulnerable to witchcraft, and the voodoo practitioners “would entrap the souls in bottles or earthenware jars called zombi astral and use them to control the undead body, which was referred to as the zombi cadavre.” Apparently this practice was, at times, used for “benevolent purposes”, but was also used for things like attacks on enemies and slavery.
Pufferfish and Other Neurotoxins
Many of us have heard that if you eat a pufferfish that isn’t sliced in precisely the right way, you can drop dead instantly, as they contain neurotoxins. Why is anyone ordering a pufferfish off a menu, anyway? More importantly, why is any restaurant selling an entree that can result in instant death? I guess that’s one way to get out of picking up the check, but I digress…
According to ViralNova, the neurotoxins of pufferfish are not fatal when applied to the skin, but “it can temporarily induce a deathlike state. When the poison wears off, the victim still won’t feel too great and might be able to be convinced that they are a zombie.” Like some of the other items on this list, figuring out a way to utilize the toxin in order to induce the masses into a zombie-type state isn’t all that far-fetched. The Mary Sue also noted the story of a Haitian man, Clairvius Narcisse, who became a real-life zombie after being “poisoned by a mixture of natural poisons with a view to simulating death. Following his ‘death’ and burial, his body was recovered by a priest of the vodun religion and given doses of ‘Datura stramonium,’ transforming Narcisse into a zombie-like state. The priest had sent him to work on a sugar plantation for two years alongside a number of other zombie slaves. However, following the master’s death, Narcisse walked to freedom and when his regular doses of hallucinogen ceased, he eventually regained sanity.”
Can you imagine the mayhem that could be spurred if neurotoxins ended up in the wrong hands? I’ve never been happier that the CDC has such comprehensive instructions on surviving a zombie apocalypse.
Rioting & Mass Anarchy
Do we already have a zombie within us? Throughout history, we’ve seen mass riots lead to destruction of cities, carnal-like behavior erupt from “mass mentality”, and during the most devastating of circumstances various fatalities can occur when rioting leads to what looks like anarchy on steroids. According San Antonio Police Department sergeant and author, Joe McKinney, mass rioting could reach apocalyptic heights similar to those in horror films. “The other way I could see us experiencing something like a zombie apocalypse would be through mass rioting. The news brings us reports of riots from every corner of the globe these days, and it makes me wonder how close we are to going over into complete anarchy. Should we ever reach that tipping point, we’d have carnage akin to that depicted in films like 28 Days Later and books like The Road. Who knows? We may not be all that far away right now.”
What better way to start a terrifying zombie apocalypse than with something we’re already terrified of? I’m speaking, of course, about wasps. According to The Mary Sue, there are not one, but two types of wasps that could lead to a zombie apocalypse. The first is the parasitic Hymenoepimecis argyraphaga. These scary little critters “target orb weaver spiders and use them as hosts for their young.” Basically, the wasps will paralyze the spiders with a sting and use the spider’s belly as a breeding ground for the wasp’s larva. From there, the larva will continue to take up residence on the spider and go all sci-fi on the now-handicapped bug by “ injecting an as-yet-unknown chemical into the spider” which takes over the spider’s brain and turns it into an eight-legged zombie.
The jewel wasp exhibits similar behaviors, but chooses a cockroach as host to its young. As with the aforementioned example, the wasp will paralyze the cockroach with a sting and then “makes a much more surgical string right in the part of the roach’s brain that allows it to initiate complex behavior.” It only gets creepier from there. The wasp will “ literally drags the cockroach by the antenna back to its burrow.” Just as the roach will begin to regain its bearings, wasp eggs will hatch and the larva will eat the roach’s insides. Apparently there are microscopic horror movies already playing out in nature, and we didn’t even realize it. Have fun trying to sleep tonight.