Do Not Kill that Zombie!… Yet.

It is common knowledge that when a person is bitten by a zombie, they become infected with the virus and themselves eventually turn into a zombie after a while. It is also common in movies for the friends or family of an infected person to kill them before they turn in order to save them the presumed torture of becoming a mindless, violent creature. Unfortunately, this is always the wrong thing to do.

There are two scenarios in which a person may be infected by a zombie: (1) during a fight in which zombies are closing in, with little time to think or rest before the the person turns, (2) incidentally, with plenty of down time and waiting before the person turns.

In scenario (1) in which zombies are everywhere and everybody is desperately fighting for their lives, then mercy-killing an infected person is pointless. It wastes time, allowing the zombies to get closer, and deprives you of a an extra person who can fight or at the very least stall them and hold them off to give you time to get away.

In scenario (2) in which a person has been bitten (perhaps in a prior battle or close call) and now has time to sit and wait before turning, mercy-killing them is again pointless, and worse, potentially destructive. First, you deprive them of whatever little time they have left. Further, what happens if that person happens to be immune‽ Not only have you killed them unnecessarily, but you have just thrown away the possibility of developing a vaccine or even cure from their blood (yes, they must be alive otherwise the blood is in limited supply and decaying all the while).

Granted, waiting until the person turns puts you at risk because once they turn they become violent. However, the benefits of waiting until they turn to ensure that they are indeed gone far outweighs the risk. Besides, in scenario (1), there is no difference from one extra zombie (especially since they are not even a zombie yet), and in scenario (2), there is time and opportunity to secure the person to eliminate the risk altogether.

Moreover, even if a person looks like they are infected, it does not mean that they are not immune. When you get a cold or flu, you look and feel terrible for a few days, but eventually the immune system beats the virus back and you recover. It is no different from a zombie-virus; it may take a few hours or days, perhaps even weeks, who knows, but it is possible that some people could recover and not become a zombie.


Viral/Bacterial Spread Won’t Corrode

Dr. Oz discussed the film Contagion with the filmmakers. One thing they discussed is how a virus can spread quickly and thoroughly amongst a population. Before that, the MythBusters did an experiment to visualize how much a virus can spread at a simple dinner party and how to minimize the spread. The experiment used a clear liquid that could be seen under an ultra-violet light.

This is an obvious technique; to use a paint or dye of some sort to see who and what is “infected” after some time. Now one might think that the spread is not as bad as virus movies would make it seem because “patient zero” may have a large amount of the virus in them, but each time they contaminate someone, they pass off less and less. As well, each contaminated person is naturally less contaminated than the person that infected them, and so passes on less and less of the virus such that at some point, only minuscule amounts are being transferred.

Imagine one person holding an unsliced loaf of  bread, and each time they pass someone, they rip off a chunk and give it to them, and those people do the same. At some point, people will be passing on mere crumbs.

This seems somewhat of a relief to know that the amounts drop off, and if you get infected later on (eg, by trying to stay clean as long as possible), you would be getting little enough to be able to fight it off. Unfortunately, while this is indeed the case for things like paint or bread, it is not true for bacteria and viruses because infections reproduce. You may only receive a small amount of a virus or bacteria, however they will reproduce inside you and increase their numbers, so that when you pass it off to someone else, you give them about as large a dose as anybody else, not less. Unfortunately, attrition does not apply to viral or bacterial spread.

Zombies are Real

On the Discovery Channel, Ziya Tong concluded a segment of Ziyology about zombies by stating that it is unlikely for humans to become ‘zombified’. That is not correct. The truth is that by standard definitions of the term “zombie”, there are already plenty of zombies in our society and more and more people are becoming zombified all the time (in fact Maria Shriver was part of a Larry King special in which it was called a full on epidemic). The infecting agent in this case: beta-amyloid plaque.

A person with Alzheimer’s disease is in every way a zombie. In fact, the only missing aspect of the traditional monster is the aggressiveness, which can easily be filled in by the addition of rabies (witness Cujo).

So there you have it; a zombie is nothing more than a person who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease (progressive) who contracts rabies. Since a zombie is a mindless, uncommunicative creature who is violent and driven by nothing more than the basest instincts, these two diseases can (and probably have somewhere, sometime) create real-life zombies.