Are we simply fooling ourselves into thinking that we are safe from catatonic walking bodies, bent on attacking other humans? A behavior altering virus or illness is one that impacts the nervous system causing symptoms such as involuntary muscle spasms, anxiety, paralysis, pupil dilation, confusion, hallucinations, and more.
Symptoms include poor coordination, impaired movement (falling and stumbling), muscle twitching, delirium, and seizures. Boston University neuropsychologist, Peter Cummings, explored this possibility and Kluver-Bucy syndrome, in his book Neuropsychology of Zombies.
Kluver-Bucy syndrome causes humans to do a wide range of strange things and can trigger violence even while the victim is in a catatonic state. Behavior altering parasites, like the thorny-headed worm or lancet liver fluke, are another way that a zombie apocalypse could really happen.
This parasite is typically found in small birds and rats, and has been known to alter animal behavior. Believe it or not, this one is something that is the most likely, simply because it has already happened in places like Haiti, one of the origins for zombie as a description anyhow.
Victims of certain neurotoxins, such as from the Japanese blow fish, suffer from inhibited bodily processes. Victims of this neurotoxin can be brought back using drugs or chemicals like alkaloids or data strontium.
Apparently, village voodoo priests were routinely using natural chemicals to turn people into zombies, so they had laborers for the sugar plantations. The only comfort in this possible cause for a zombie apocalypse is that zombies resulting from neurotoxins would not be interested in eating other humans or attacking them.
You’ve certainly heard about stem cell research, something scientists and medical professionals have been doing for quite some time now. Sure they are focused on using stem cells to regenerate vital organs like kidneys, liver, or the human heart.
When you combine neurogenesis with suspended animation of dead bodies while awaiting future medical breakthroughs, you can see where a zombie apocalypse could actually occur. In fact, self-replicating nanobots are predicted to one day be used for a host of medical purposes, including monitoring your health from within, repairing damaged bones, and even fighting infection.
Nano-cyborgs, created by scientists, are predicted to be used within ten short years, to replace damaged neural connections in your brain. This means the potential is there for nanobots to be creating neural pathways in your brain, to keep your body moving, even after you die.
As if that’s not scary enough, nanobots are designed to self-replicate which means they are basically programmed to find a new host prior to their current one decaying. Your only choice if confronted with groups of these desperate people will be to be prepared to fight back or to flee with whatever supplies you can carry.
But for just about any type of zombie outbreak, whatever the cause, there are some general things you can do to ramp up your chances of survival. Identify family members, friends, and neighbors who are like-minded and form a mutual assistance group that is committed to working together to survive.
You can find both of those at Arizona State University in the office of theoretical evolutionary biologist Athena Antipas. “The Zombie Apocalypse Medicine Alliance (RAMA) is committed to providing a positive and respectful environment for humans, zombies and all other monsters.
“ Zombie Apocalypse Medicine (ZAM) is a theoretically grounded approach to understanding and treating disease in extreme conditions. These conditions include post-disaster environments, challenging ecological settings such as high altitude and freezing, social conditions characterized by mind control and manipulation and scenarios characterized by highly contagious infectious disease.
While all of that sounds sophisticated and futuristic, Antipas warns that disasters, highly contagious infections and mind control are already here and can easily reach modification levels. From microbes hijacking behavior, to humans influencing each other, to our brains being taken over by social media, we talk about why modification happens, why we are susceptible to it, and what we can do about it.
“She recommends keeping a go-bag of vital supplies like first aid kits, duct tape that can be used to fashion a shoe or a weapon, and whiskey to sterilize water and wounds (or drink if things get awful).” While there is no reason to worry about the walking dead traipsing down your street anytime soon, there are real-life illnesses that can simulate the fictional undead.
These viral infectious diseases spread quickly and have been known to cause people to act in a quite unusual way. The virus may also be passed on if infected tissue comes into contact with skin in the eyes, nose, or mouth.
Pain, tingling, or itching at the site of the bite wound or other site of viral entry Stiff muscles Increased production of thick saliva Flu-like symptoms, such as headache, fever, fatigue, nausea Painful spasms and contractions of the throat when exposed to water Erratic or bizarre behavior, such as biting, thrashing about, spasms, and delusions Development of intense phobias to water (hydrophobia) Paralysis While sleeping sickness is most often found in sub-Saharan Africa, this is a good one to be aware of if you are a world traveler.
African Trypanosomiasis, also known as “sleeping sickness” is caused by microscopic parasites of the species Trypanosoma Bruce, also known as the tsetse fly. Later symptoms occur once the parasite invades the brain and central nervous system.
Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, is an infection caused by slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium deprave. While largely eradicated in the modern world, records show that it dates back to over 4,000 years ago in Egypt, China, India, and Africa.
While leprosy is only transmitted through prolonged, close contact with an infected individual, it still affects about 100 people a year in the United States. Because of nerve damage, people might not feel the skin and develop injuries and ulcers.
Discolored patches of skin Growths on the skin Thick, stiff or dry skin Painless ulcers on the soles of feet Painless swelling or lumps on the face or earlobes Loss of eyebrows or eyelashes Muscle weakness or paralysis (especially in the hands and feet) Eye problems that may lead to blindness A stuffy nose and/or nosebleeds Paralysis and crippling of hands and feet Shortening of toes and fingers due to reabsorption Nose disfigurement Burning sensation in the skin Bovine spongiform encephalopathy is a progressive neurological disorder of cattle caused by an agent called a prion.
Those who develop such an infection usually have compromised immune systems from another illness, including diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer. Typically, a necrotizing fasciitis infection is not spread from person to person, but occurs randomly when bacteria (most commonly Strep A) enters the body through a cut, scrape, burn, insect bite, or puncture wound.
Prompt treatment with antibiotics and, often, surgery is required to remove all dead tissue. While they may not create the mummy-like creatures we are used to seeing on TV and in the movies, zombie -like illnesses are a very real phenomenon.
The 1974 book ‘The Jupiter Effect’ by John Griffin and Stephen Pageant foresaw that the end of the world would come from the alignment of the solar system planets. This would create many catastrophes, such as a giant earthquake on the San Andreas Fault, which would occur on 10 March 1982.
Weaponized ‘ zombie pathogens, misuse of microbes and global pandemics, helped along by air travel and urbanization, could lead to a biological disaster. Experts at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health last year published a detailed report on Technologies to Address Global Catastrophic Biological Risk, which sets out 15 technologies that could help when a disease catastrophe strikes.
We all know there are treatments for this sort of ailment, but what if a new and indestructible mutation of an existing disease rears its ugly zombie head? Like the plot of the 2002 dragon film, ‘Reign of Fire’, there could be something sinister underground, just waiting for the time to emerge and wreak havoc on the world.
There could be a squad of kraken slowly making their way up from the depths, adjusting to pressure changes, taking their sweet time. We’ve all seen the battle scars on sperm whales when they come back from their hunting trips in the deep blue.
Recent advances like vertical farming take advantage of limited space in densely populated urban areas, reducing the potential for this kind of catastrophe. The loss of biodiversity, destruction of habitat and lack of forage due to monocultures and bee-killing pesticides are threats for honeybees and wild pollinators.
According to Understanding Evolution (evolution.Berkeley.edu), scientists suspect massive fissures and vents in the earth that continually ooze steady pulses of lava would cause a lot of problems, generating much more lava than explosive volcanoes, and affecting vast areas. That sort of eruption could cover millions of square kilometers with lava over a few hundred thousand years.
This oozing volcanic activity seems to cause extinctions through secondary effects, not through eruption. Oozing releases gas that poisons animals and plants, and contributes to acid rain and climate change.
The events set off by these shifts in atmospheric chemistry could be truly catastrophic, but this sort of apocalypse would take an extremely long time. Large-scale volcanic activity could impact organisms and their habitats at many levels, ultimately leading to skyrocketing extinction rates.
It will take about 10 to the power of 100 years (a Googol) for Heat Death to occur, so don’t panic just yet. Humans thought all hope was lost, until the aliens got the common cold and died, leaving the crows to pick their bones.
Therefore, aliens could come and give us their version of a cold and wipe us out, and we wouldn’t even have time to blow our noses. Sample-return probes from space, or returning crews, could bring microscopic biological contaminants from other worlds.
This sort of contamination from otherworldly viruses, bacteria or spores, means beings from our world would probably have no immunity. A large asteroid or comet colliding with the Earth could cause an explosion greater than all the nuclear bombs on the planet.
This kind of impact is thought to have caused the extinction of all land dinosaurs 66 million years ago. And if the impact doesn’t kill us, any alien germs on the intruder could set us up for some interplanetary contamination.
We are fully aware of how devastating nuclear weapons can be (Hiroshima), and how radiation sickness affects life for years after the initial contact (Chernobyl). Ionizing radiation (the kind you’d find in minerals, atom bombs and nuclear reactors) destroys DNA, weakening and breaking it up, so you die a horrendous death (look up Hisashi Ouch if you’re morbidly curious), or the cells become damaged enough to mutate into cancer.
Plowshares Fund, which is an organization dedicated to reducing nuclear threats, reports that Russia has 6,490 weapons, the US has 6,185, France 300, China 290, UK 215, Pakistan 150, India 130, Israel 80, and North Korea 20. If something similar were to happen again, and we couldn’t find a way to stop or control it, mankind could be decimated as it spreads throughout the world.
Earth’s average surface temperature has risen about 0.9 °C since the late 19th century, largely down to increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions. Also, if we melt all the ice the sea level will rise by 65 m, and a lot of the world as we know it will eventually vanish underwater.
Nigel Stanley, CTO at TUV Zealand, says ransomware has shown how a single class of attacks can have huge impact, with many victims that are not targeted becoming collateral digital damage. “A bit like getting the flu on a train journey as you decided not to get the vaccine (analogous to not patching your systems or building a decent backup/restore strategy),” he adds.