Call for international action to prevent a zombie apocalypse

December 14, 2015

Better funding and cooperation by the international community is needed to prevent a zombie apocalypse, argues a US expert in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

Tara Smith, Associate Professor at Kent State University in Ohio says emerging zombie infections have been identified around the globe and, though sporadic, are becoming a source of greater concern to the medical and public health community.

Yet little formal study has been carried out into the the infections that may result in zombification. She therefore provides an overview of zombie infections and suggestions for research investment in order to prevent a zombie apocalypse.

Though the properties of zombies may vary, what unites many outbreaks is a disease that is spread via bite, explains Smith. Of infectious causes proposed, the Solanum virus has been the most extensively studied. "It has a 100% mortality rate, and if exposed to fluids of an infected individual, zombification is certain."

Non-viral zombie causes include a form of the Black Plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, the cordyceps fungus, and a mutated strain of the prion infection, commonly known as "mad cow" disease.

Symptoms of infection during a zombie outbreak tend to be fairly uniform, regardless of the nature of the pathogen, says Smith. The incubation period is highly variable, with development of symptoms ranging from mere seconds to hours or days.

Other symptoms may include a shambling gait, tendency to moan, loss of dexterity and prior personality traits, and the eventual rotting of flesh, she adds. In rare cases, zombies may be highly intelligent and self-aware, and lacking in the typical bite-and-flesh-eating tendencies.

Due to the rapid onset of zombie outbreaks and their society-destroying characteristics, prevention and treatment is a largely unexplored area of investigation, notes Smith.

She also points out that "equilibrium with the zombie infection is rarely achieved" and believes that the documented rise of multiple zombie pathogens "should be a wake-up call to the international community that we need additional funding and cooperation to address these looming apocalyptic disease threats."

The Zombie Survival Guide 2003 notes: "At this rate, attacks will only increase, culminating in one of two possibilities. The first is that world governments will have to acknowledge, both privately and publicly, the existence of the living dead, creating special organizations to deal with the threat. In this scenario, zombies will become an accepted part of daily life - marginalized, easily contained, perhaps even vaccinated against. A second, more ominous scenario would result in an all-out war between the living and the dead..."

For the sake of humanity, "we must ensure that the latter scenario does not occur," says Smith, "and that we work together as a unified global community to respond quickly to any and all new zombie threats."
-end-


BMJ

Related Infection Articles from Brightsurf:

Halving the risk of infection following surgery
New analysis by the University of Leeds and the University of Bern of more than 14,000 operations has found that using alcoholic chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) halves the risk of infection in certain types of surgery when compared to the more commonly used povidone-iodine (PVI).

How plants shut the door on infection
A new study by an international team including University of Maryland scientists has discovered the key calcium channel responsible for closing plant pores as an immune response to pathogen exposure.

Sensing infection, suppressing regeneration
UIC researchers describe an enzyme that blocks the ability of blood vessel cells to self-heal.

Boost to lung immunity following infection
The strength of the immune system in response to respiratory infections is constantly changing, depending on the history of previous, unrelated infections, according to new research from the Crick.

Is infection after surgery associated with increased long-term risk of infection, death?
Whether experiencing an infection within the first 30 days after surgery is associated with an increased risk of another infection and death within one year was the focus of this observational study that included about 660,000 veterans who underwent major surgery.

Revealed: How E. coli knows how to cause the worst possible infection
The discovery could one day let doctors prevent the infection by allowing E. coli to pass harmlessly through the body.

UK study shows most patients with suspected urinary tract infection and treated with antibiotics actually lack evidence of this infection
New research presented at this week's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Amsterdam, Netherlands (April 13-16, 2019) shows that only one third of patients that enter the emergency department with suspected urinary tract infection (UTI) actually have evidence of this infection, yet almost all are treated with antibiotics, unnecessarily driving the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

Bacteria in urine doesn't always indicate infection
Doctors should think carefully before testing patients for a urinary tract infection (UTI) to avoid over-diagnosis and unnecessary antibiotic treatment, according to updated asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) guidelines released by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Subsidies for infection control to healthcare institutions help reduce infection levels
Researchers compared three types of infection control subsidies and found that under a limited budget, a dollar-for-dollar matching subsidy, in which policymakers match hospital spending for infection control measures, was the most effective at reducing the number of hospital-acquired infections.

Dengue virus infection may cause severe outcomes following Zika virus infection during pregnancy
This study is the first to report a possible mechanism for the enhancement of Zika virus progression during pregnancy in an animal model.

Read More: Infection News and Infection Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.