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Zombie Virus: It’s Not Just The Movies

Oct 08, 13 Zombie Virus: It’s Not Just The Movies

Hollywood has portrayed zombies as walking dead, roaming around in search of victims to spread their affliction to others. Hundreds of movies and television series have featured zombie-like characters as part of their main plot.

It may seem far-fetched, but what if a real-life zombie virus spread around the globe, causing people to act like zombies? Actually, there is a virus that acts similar to what is depicted on the big screen. It’s called rabies.

This virus is mainly confined to wild animals like bats, which are the main distributor of the virus. The virus is spread by the animal biting its victim, which causes confusion and aggressive behavior in the recipient, similar to the actions of a movie zombie. The main difference between the two is the rabies virus is highly fatal, whereas the movie viruses are generally not.

So, what if a rabies virus mutated into the same type that is portrayed on the movie screen. That question is not so far fetched as we might think. A couple of microbiologists were asked, could a zombie virus like in the movies actually happen.

Jonathan D. Dinman, PhD, Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Maryland, told redOrbit, “I think that the Zombie Virus already exists (almost): Rabies. Infection is nearly 100 percent lethal, i.e. it turns you into the walking dead (for a while at least), and it causes you to change your behavior by reprogramming you to bite other people to spread the infection. Now if only it kept the corpse walking around.”

Dr. Samantha Price, an HCPC registered Biomedical Scientist and Research Information coordinator for the UK MND Association, told redOrbit. “When we think of rabies, we think of dogs with foaming mouths but this virus is actually the most likely to mutate into something that would be similar to a ‘zombie virus’.”

She added, “the common symptoms of rabies are dislike of ‘bright lights’ and a fear of water. When you think of the film ‘I am Legend‘ the zombie-like creatures here dislike both of these things. Rabies is also transmitted via bodily fluids, bites etc and due to the virus making the individual increasingly aggressive the symptoms of rabies seem to be more alike to a Hollywood zombie than you probably previously thought. Rabies is, however, highly fatal so the virus would need to mutate in a way that would make it less fatal — so that it could cause a ‘zombie-like’ outbreak.”

We watch these movies and think, its just a movie, that could never happen, or could it. Either by some strange turn of events with the rabies virus mutating naturally, or by a deranged scientist mutating the virus scientifically, a zombie-like outbreak could become a nightmarish reality.

Join me next time for another journey into the mysterious world of Supernatural Endeavors.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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