The Walking Dead- Could we really become that?

“The Walking Dead” has recently become one of the most popular television series out there. It is the story of Rick Grimes, a sheriff’s deputy, who wakes up from a coma to find a post-apocalyptic world over run with zombies or “walkers,” as they are referred to in the show. This show much like the movie “Zombieland,” revolves around a group of survivors trying to stay alive and find others who aren’t infected. In both the movie and the show, the zombies seem to be created through a virus like infection that is extremely widespread and devastating. According to a Discovery Channel program, the actuality of something like this actually happening is very unlikely. Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunization at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, John’s Hopkins University, Andrew Pekosz describes the type of virus that would be able to cause a “zombie apocalypse.” The virus would be one that infects a person, but does not display symptoms for weeks, but is still able to be transmitted from person to person. In a scenario like this, by the time anyone actually knew they were sick from virus; there would be hundreds if not thousands infected. A virus that acted in this manner would make it extremely difficult to enact any public health measures. It would be hard to act preventatively because many people would be infected long before they knew there was even a virus spreading and it would be impossible to head off the virus with vaccines because so many would be infected before they even knew the virus existed. According to Pekosz though this kind of scenario may be more than a virus can handle. Typically a virus causes an illness as soon as it enters the host, so to ask it to remain dormant, symptomless, while still spreading is almost impossible. He says that there could be a possible link between causing a disease and spreading the virus, much like with the flu. It may have to be passed through coughing or sneezing, which are symptoms that would alert the person of an illness. When asked if it was possible for such a virus to infect the whole population, he responds with a no. It would be very hard for one single virus to infect an entire population. Some people would simply not be exposed to the virus. If they live in a separated area with little to no contact with other people, they may not ever come in contact with the virus. Still others will build an immunity from a small does and just not react to it, but will be immune to a later infection. Others will have a natural immunity, like Matt Damon’s character in “Contagion.” Will all of this together, a good percent of this population would be not be affected by the population and most likely a virus that would cause a zombie apocalypse isn’t even likely. So for now, even though zombie shows and movies seem to be catching society’s interest, there isn’t really a way for something like the “Walking Dead” to occur.Image

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About harleylizabeth

I'm a Freshman at Queens University Of Charlotte in, you guessed it!, Charlotte, North Carolina. This a Blog about Biology specifically Biology 208.
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2 Responses to The Walking Dead- Could we really become that?

  1. cmdrysdale says:

    While the scenario in The Walking Dead might be a bit biologically implausible, others that could create a zombie-type apocalypse are much more feasible, such as the set up for the film, ’28 Days Later’, where a virus turns people into zombie-like infected. A prime real-life starting points for such a scenario would be a mutation in the rabies virus (the symptoms of which, towards the end, are not that far removed from most zombie-like infected in films and books) so that it travelled through the blood stream, and not along nerves as it currently does. This would mean people would start showing symptoms and become infectious much quicker, increasing the rate of spread. It would also need to change so that instead of killing people, it just took over their brains. Both of these changes are theoretical possible and could feasibly occur naturally (although that would be unlikely) or through genetic engineering (which really wouldn’t be too difficult). We’d be very hard pressed to deal with such a mutated rabies virus as there’s no vaccine for rabies that can be used once you start showing symptoms, it’s highly infectious and there’s no known examples of natural immunity…

  2. stars1100 says:

    The Drug Bath Salts has this type of effect on people who use this, as example the guy who ate another guys face off was really violent and could not be reasoned with or controlled, even the police had trouble they shot him many times and he was still animated and violent until he was shot in the head. The bath Salt drug allows the body to go into adrenaline overdrive causing a lot of strength, as in other drugs where people exhibit enhanced strength. One detective on the news describe the attacker as more animal and that he growled at them. Bath Salts effects somehow cause certain brain functions to stop working creating its host user as insane and can not respond or control their actions. This type of drug could be developed more potent to a point where something mutates when a person uses it is unable to come down from the effect or high and biting another people could transmit the effects to another host through their saliva causing the drugs effect to act quickly when transmitted to others. Eventually these people will die out or burn out, but before that happens a lot of damage could happen and their could be many places overrun even a city could be as well, but this happening globally is unlikely and the military would eventually have it under control. Mind you this means that this type of outbreak dose not bring back the dead it effects living people.

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