The Science of Zombies (Part I)

Perhaps because they were easier to control and kill, zombies never acquired the cachet of their undead cousins, the vampires. This phenomenon extended to science: zombie research was considered a less glamorous field and consistently lagged behind vampire research in funding. Since development of the vaccine in 1911, the zombie threat has been greatly reduced. However, this should not make us complacent. Most experts believe that in today’s world, a zombie outbreak is far more likely than a vampire outbreak.

The Virus

The zombie virus comes from the same Mononegavirales family as the Human Vampiric Virus. The virus is propagated mainly through ticks of the family Ixodidae. The prevalence of these ticks in tropical climes is the main reason for the large number of outbreaks in those regions. The nature of the spread of zombie plagues generally depended on the place of origin. Most urban plagues were spread by aggressive rats that had been bitten by an infected tick. In the country, the tick would bite humans directly, or pass the virus through mice, raccoons and other animals.

As was the case with vampirism, humans infected with the virus would pass it from their saliva into the bloodstream of another through the bite.

Stages of the Disease

The stages of zombie transformation are the same that occur in vampires, with two major differences: in zombies, the onset of symptoms and transformation occurs much faster and has no relation to the cycles of day and night.

Stage One: Infection. Symptoms of zombie infection appear quickly: within one or two hours, the victim will develop a headache, fever, chills and other flu-like symptoms. Zombie infections last about half as long as their vampiric counterparts, mostly between three and six hours, during which the vaccine is 100 percent effective.

Stage Two: Coma. Zombie comas are considerably more brief than vampiric comas. While physiological changes-slow pulse, shallow breathing-are similar, the coma lasts only between four and six hours. Only the very young and very old do not survive zombie comas. Zombies have been found as young as five years old and as old as 90. As with vampires, the vaccine is 50 percent effective when administered during Stage Two of the infection: the longer the victim has been in the coma, the less effective the vaccine.

Stage Three: Transformation. Zombies awaken from their comas in a catatonic state. They are unresponsive to most stimuli as they shuffle about, trying to locate their prey. Unlike vampires, there is no acclimation period; a zombie will begin hunting immediately upon transformation.

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