Real Life Zombie Viruses In the World
Everyone fears the one day in the distant future that a zombie apocalypse will swarm the Earth and infect everyone in sight. While the odds of that happening are extremely slim, there are several infectious diseases that exist today that are close to what we’d imagine the zombie apocalypse to look like.
The rabies is a speedy virus that can kill a mammal in just a week if not treated without vaccines. In the United States, certain strains of the disease have been found mainly in skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and bats are usually transmitted when an infected animal’s saliva penetrates a bite. Once transmitted, the virus will attack the central nervous system. Symptoms initially resemble the flu with fevers, weakness, and headaches, but then progress to anxiety, paranoia, fear of water (due to throat spasms after drinking), and potentially death.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
Thought to be caused by an abnormal, folded protein known as a prion, CJD causes symptoms that are similar to a fast progressing dementia. People with CJD start to lose their memory and undergo personality changes and speech impairment. In some cases they become so mentally deteriorated that they enter into a coma. A CJD-like disease known as Kuru emerged in Papua New Guinea after the indigenous engaged in funerary cannibalism.
This disease that causes fevers, headaches, confusion, aggression, insomnia, and daytime sleepiness is passed onto human through tsetse fly bites that carry the trypanosome brucei gambiense parasite. This disease is primarily found in Sub-Saharan Africa, but is curable with medication.
After emerging thousands of years ago, the human race has eradicated the smallpox from the world with vaccinations. Caused by the variola virus hosted in humans, this disease causes severe fevers, rashes (small red spots), and open sores. Smallpox was spread generally through direct face-to-face contact.
In the 1300’s this epidemic killed 25 million people. This disease was transmitted from rodents to humans through fleas and was quickly spread from there on out. The bubonic plague caused painful swelling in the lymph glands located in the armpits or groin and red spots that later turned black. It killed over 75% of infected people within four days.
Cholera is a disease caused by an infection within the intestine, which leads to massive diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. The quick loss of water then leads to dehydration, which can result in shock and death within a few hours. Cholera is contracted from infected water or foods that have come into contact with cholera bacterium.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome was first reported and widespread in Asia in 2003 and spread around the globe before being contained in 2004. The disease causes high fevers, head and body aches, diarrhea, and pneumonia and can be easily spread through close contact with an infected person.
For the most part, livestock and wild animals are infected with the anthrax bacterium, but it is possible for humans to contract the disease by eating infected meats or by inhaling the bacterium’s spores. Depending on the transmission of the disease (cuts, ingestion, inhalation, injection), the symptoms will vary from swollen lymph glands, nausea, vomiting, meningitis, and multiple organ failure.