Peter Cummings, a scientist from Boston University, states that several diseases and conditions already exist that could cause someone to be viewed as a zombie. According to Cummings, the key to understanding the potential for these conditions to produce zombie traits was to examine the shutdown of the frontal lobe of the brain.
When thinking of zombies, most people conjure up images of the dead rising from their graves. She stated that the rising dead was an unlikely scenario, but the mutation of a virus similar to rabies wasn’t.
With the slave trade, these traditions and practices made the journey to many parts of the Americas. In recent times, Haiti has become one of the epicenters of modern cases of “zombies.” In fact, the notion of voodoo permeates the mindset of the population.
Without a doubt, one of the most controversial claims of real-life zombies came from Wade Davis of Harvard University. Even more intriguing was Davis’s claims that criminals were turned into zombies in antiquity to stop their wayward behavior.
Ultimately, he stated that creating zombies was achieved through a mixture of secret natural toxins. Other believed that such discoveries, if true, would be of great interest to secret military projects.
In one intriguing account, Huston tells of being invited to study hoodoo rituals up close. A hoodoo priest gave permission for the unique opportunity, and Huston eventually performed several rituals herself.
The main worry is that these natural methods will be replicated in a science lab and used against the general population. For example, many natural zombies are created when a parasite enters the nervous system of an animal through the food chain.
This is most often an effort to bring the animal out into the open and in full view of its natural predators. When successful, the parasite then passes along to the predator in the same way as it entered the originally infected host.
According to Penn State’s David Hughes, this turns the animals into “a fungus in ants’ clothing!” Stephen Kane, an associate professor at the University of California, Riverside, certainly has a unique theory as to why aliens have not visited Earth.
It would probably take the world’s scientists and medical experts by complete surprise and on the back foot. When we view the idea of zombies in those terms, the prospect doesn’t appear so laughable regardless of how unlikely it is to happen.
Mankind believed that it was impossible to travel faster than the speed of a horse, and that to do so would be deadly. I’ll start off with the qualifier that I received my Master’s in Public Health many moons ago.
After a lot of thought, and years’ worth of research (on other projects), I’ve come to the conclusion that if there were to be a zombie apocalypse it would have to come from one of five different agents… Rabies causes drastically increased levels of rage and delirium, during which people are very likely to do things that they would never even consider in normal circumstances.
To make matters even more concerning, if a strain of rabies was responsible for a zombie apocalypse it is very likely that all mammals would be susceptible to infection. This means that not only would you have to worry about very angry (and deadly) people, but dogs, bears, lions, weasels, chipmunks, cats, and other hard-to-evade animals.
They would all be in altered states, true, but there is no form of “resurrection virus” out there that can reanimate dead tissue… to my knowledge… yet. The good thing about a rabies strain causing a zombie infection is that you would most likely be safe if you stayed near large bodies of water.
Because people with rabies end up developing a deathly fear of water if left untreated. Once rabies has developed far enough in a victim, they will have an extremely difficult time even forcing themselves to drink a glass of water despite how thirsty they may feel.
So, hopefully, with a mutated rabies strain that particular trait of infection would still hold true. (If you really want to delve into mankind’s history with the rabies virus, I highly recommend reading Rabid by Bill Was.
This mushroom then creates spores, and thanks to the favorable height it is now at, it can infect the maximal amount of hosts nearby. The spores are able to float as far and as wide as possible with the wind and height in their favor, and the fungus is able to spread ever wider.
Perchance this fungus would ever adapt or be altered to attack human brains, it would not look like your stereotypical zombie outbreak. It would have to be some form of weaponized strain that perfectly meshed the DNA and characteristics of the two infections, which is highly unlikely.
Instead, what you would see with a human codices infection would be people who all of a sudden begin acting strangely as they search for the highest location around them. There wouldn’t be a wild storm of teeth and blood, but instead an insatiable desire to climb ever higher.
They would soon find their ideal location, SOMEHOW the fungus would figure out that it was where it desired to be, and then the victim would die as the fungus colonized the rest of the body, turning the victim into a fungal colony atop a roof, balcony, fire escape, or what have you. Those who have already been consumed are already dead, and the only way to take care of the problem then would be with flamethrowers or chemical agents.
Currently, one can find codices fungi available for purchase in health food stores as a form of supplement to aid in memory, among other reported benefits. Several years ago, there were several reports of drug users who had taken bath salts and resorted to cannibalizing those around them.
The only way that a large scale outbreak could ever occur would be if the bath salts were somehow aerosolized, and even then, it’s unclear whether there needs to be a pre-inducement psychological priming (e.g. having a large percentage of the target population recently watching a zombie movie) in order for such cannibalistic behavior to commence. If there’s one thing that the placebo effect has demonstrated, it’s the susceptibility of the human mind to suggestion.
It’s when med school students believe that they have terrible and uncommon diseases simply because they are studying about them. There is a great deal of speculation whether the women involved in the Salem Witch Trials were the victims of such psychological manifestations.
At the same time, think about the sheer number of patients contained within asylums’ walls who believe themselves to be frogs, dictators, George Washington, or tea kettles. Whether it was through brainwashing or via the power of suggestion, it is possible that people could resort to violent cannibalism simply because they believe that they have been infected with some sort of agent.
The likelihood of great swaths of the population being simultaneously susceptible to such suggestion is incredibly low. Either way however, pain would most likely be a very strong reminder that reality is very different from what is taking place in their heads.
Using a placebo “cure” (e.g. sugar water) could very easily bring people back to reality as well. The power of suggestion works both ways, and people wouldn’t quit thinking while they were “infected”.
Such an agent could be a microbe brought back from outer space, a bacterium that’s been frozen under Antarctic ice, or some form of genetically modified and synthetic bio-weapon. In any of these scenarios, the most likely result would be something akin to The Andromeda Strain, but to remain intellectually honest, I suppose there is always a CHANCE that human cannibalization could be the chief sign among the infected.