Wendy Ingham, who was involved in the study, says that the team tested the parasite on mice which were ultimately unfazed by the presence of a predator once infected. Rabies has a modification effect on animals (Image: GETTY)She warned that toxoplasma is dangerous: “The idea that this parasite knows more about our brains than we do, and has the ability to exert desired change in complicated rodent behavior, is absolutely fascinating.
“Toxoplasma has done a phenomenal job of figuring out mammalian brains in order to enhance its transmission through a complicated life cycle.” A zombie outbreak IS possible (Image: GETTY)Dr. Ben Newman, a professor of virology at the University of Reading, believes that a virus such as rabies could evolve and conquer humanity.
But some experts suggest that zombie pathogens are lurking in the ice, waiting to be set free by rising temperatures. The remote risk of old viruses causing new waves of contagion has gained attention as scientists around the world work furiously to understand the coronavirus sweeping over the globe.
Just two decades ago, researchers were hoping to unravel the secrets of another pandemic: the 1918 influenza outbreak, which killed at least 50 million people worldwide. The high death rate and the virus's ability to strike down young and healthy adults had puzzled scientists for most of the 20th century.
Research teams exhumed the bodies of flu victims from long-frozen graves in Alaska and Norway to isolate genetic material from the virus. But some scientists suggest diseases held captive by Arctic ice could be released by human activities or melting caused by climate change.
Buried victims of past epidemics, like the 1918 flu or the plague, could be frozen sanctuaries for diseases thought to be eradicated from modern society, some scientists say. In 2016, an anthrax outbreak occurred in a remote Siberian village, hospitalizing dozens and killing at least one person.
But, as the theory goes, a heat wave that summer caused the permafrost to thaw and allowed the carcass to rise to the surface. Anthrax bacteria are unusual among human pathogens in that they can survive in harsh conditions for years on end.
They're able to create tough, dormant versions of themselves known as spores, which lie in wait in the soil for a host to come along. The investigation into the 1918 flu did raise the possibility that human bodies thawing out of the ice could unleash pathogens that modern society isn't prepared to deal with.
Besides the flu, there's been speculation about victims killed by diseases like smallpox or plague rising to the surface as Earth warms. But studying the frozen flu victims offered an important lesson: Just because a pathogen's genetic information is present, that doesn't mean it can still infect people.
Bodies trapped inside permafrost, on the other hand, are likely to experience wild swings in moisture and temperature, just like their surroundings. The problem for human pathogens is that they don't do well in these kinds of unstable conditions, said Army Edwards, an expert in Arctic microbiology at Aberystwyth University in Wales.
“But if you cycled it between your freezer and your refrigerator on a daily basis, then you'd very quickly find that freeze-thaw stress killing off many of the pathogens.” In 2014, a team of French researchers announced a remarkable accomplishment: They'd managed to revive a perfectly preserved virus trapped 30,000 years ago in a sample of Siberian permafrost.
“If the question is: Is there a possibility that there could be a pathogen that's frozen in some reservoir in the crosshair and be melted out and cause infection to humans or plants, I can certainly tell you the probability of that is not zero,” he told E&E News. Some of them avoid going completely dormant and continue carrying out normal biological and metabolic processes at a very slow rate.
Deforestation, live animal markets and other human activities play a big role in this regard, as well. “The impacts of climate change and global travel mean that we're now threatening small, vulnerable communities in the Arctic with diseases from elsewhere,” Edwards said.
The current pandemic should raise alarm about the possibility of more novel diseases emerging in the future and the need to prepare for them in advance. In the zombie flicks 28 Days Later and I Am Legend, an unstoppable viral plague sweeps across humanity, transforming people into mindless monsters with cannibalistic tendencies.
Many viruses have naturally high mutation rates and constantly change as a means of evading or bypassing the defenses of their hosts. There are various ways viral mutations can occur, for example through copying mistakes during gene replication or damage from ultraviolet light.
“All rabies has to do is go airborne, and you have the rage virus like in 28 Days Later, Max Monk, head of the Zombie Research Society, says in the documentary. The international nonprofit is devoted to “raising the level of zombie scholarship in the Arts and Sciences,” according to their website.
Different forms, or strains, of the same virus can swap pieces of genetic code through processes called reassortment or recombination, said Elankumaran Rubbish, a virologist at Virginia Tech who was not involved in the documentary. But unrelated viruses simply do not hybridize in nature, Rubbish told National Geographic News.
In them, he discovered details of a genuine US military plan to combat a zombie outbreak. 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. He claimed that this resets the mind to its primal survival instincts, which is a zombielike state.
However, any “stimulation” from another person during this time made these patients “go berserk.” For what it’s worth, Cummings works in an advisory capacity for the Zombie Research Society, “an organization dedicated to the historic, cultural, and scientific study of the living dead.” 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. Furthermore, she warned that this mutated strain could spread around the world and cause a condition almost identical to the typical view of a zombie.
For example, what if an individual or a group of people take it upon themselves to create a mutation of such a virus for the so-called “greater good” of the planet? 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. Researcher Zora Neal Huston has performed some of the most exhaustive studies of zombies in Haiti.
Almost half a century before Davis, Huston claimed that “people have been called back from the dead.” Supposedly, she had also witnessed real “zombies in Haiti.” 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. However, the account in her 1938 book, Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica, really grabbed people’s attention.
‘ Zombie Parasite Takes Over Insects Through Mind Control | National Geographic 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.
Stephen Kane, an associate professor at the University of California, Riverside, certainly has a unique theory as to why aliens have not visited Earth. In 2014, he claimed that space travel in the past had left such astronauts stranded as zombies on an unknown planet.
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. Some researchers insist that the intelligence world is seeking to turn people into zombies through the use of drugs and mind control.