What are the real disease could cause a situation similar to a zombie Apocalypse

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Zombies are firmly settled in the mass popular culture: about them released a huge amount of comics, movies, gear. They are unpleasant, but strangely alluring. Nevertheless most people certainly not believe that a zombie Apocalypse can exist in reality.

Какие реальные заболевания могли бы вызвать ситуацию схожую с зомби-апокалипсисом

However, unfortunately, in the real world there are such communicable disease, outbreak of which in certain circumstances would lead to virtually a real zombie Apocalypse. The people affected would behave as a 100%-owned zombies.

One of these at a time, which is extremely easy to extend and radically changes the behavior of the sick, is the rabies virus. It is easy to get infected through blood, saliva and other bodily fluids. Most often, the infection occurs through a bite.
Rabies is fatal, but before the host dies, he will try to spread the virus among a greater number of suitable living organisms.

The life cycle of this virus is not difficult but dangerous because the already infected person or animal a particular time can behave quite normally. This state can last from 10 days to 3-4 months and sometimes up to a year — the so-called incubation period.

The virus infects the Central nervous system and after the start of the active stage of the disease the patient’s behavior begins to change, he becomes anxious, restless, his mind becomes more confused, may experience hallucinations, convulsions, salivation and sweating.

In the brightest phase of cases is becoming very aggressive animals, can start to bite anyone who will meet them on the way. Although rumors that people can behave similarly, although official confirmation of this.

After the active stage, patients die from muscular paralysis and heart failure.

Какие реальные заболевания могли бы вызвать ситуацию схожую с зомби-апокалипсисом

If someone creates a modified rabies virus mutates or he alone and he will have a short incubation period, reduced mortality rate and more stretched the active phase, a mass epidemic (pandemic) rabies will be very similar to a zombie movie Apocalypse.

Jonathan Dinman, Professor, Department of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland, very vividly described the process in an interview with RedOrbit:

«So you infected with the rabies virus and now his job does not allow you to die, but hijacks your brain and forces you to throw on other people and bite them. All the infected people thus turn into some kind of automatons dedicated to only one purpose — the spread of the virus.

To do this, just need to change the main viral property and turn it from a fast-paced deadly disease into something chronic like herpes that will be with you for life. The virus needs to fully control the thinking and behavior of man, that he should not deviate from the intended target and not even thought about the invention of drugs».

Rabies is not the only infection that is able to make humanity flock of mad zombies. This goal can perfectly cope encephalitis Lethargica, or sleepy sickness (not to be confused with the sleeping sickness, which causes the tsetse fly). The causative agent of this terrible disease are still not precisely defined, but I assume that it also worked the virus.

The disease affects the brain and infected begin to suffer from a sore throat, they have a fever, and a General sluggishness starts, flowing into a long comapatable condition, often ending in the end, the death of the sick. This disease is widely spread around the world between 1915 and 1926, but since then, known only to certain cases.

Oliver sacks in his book «Awakening» («Awakenings») described patients with lethargic encephalitis thus:

«They were still conscious and aware of the reality, but it was as if half asleep; they sat motionless and speechless all day in their chairs, totally lacking energy, impetus, initiative, motive, appetite, affect or desire; they understood what was happening around them, but without active attention, and with profound indifference. They felt no sense of life; they were as insubstantial as ghosts, and as passive zombies.»

What is even more strange, from time to time in these patients was sudden bursts of activity with rage and they jumped on anyone who even just touched their shoulder. It certainly sounds very similar to the effect of zombies.

Photo: Lindsey Turner

Какие реальные заболевания могли бы вызвать ситуацию схожую с зомби-апокалипсисом

Of course of lethargic encephalitis is not so dangerous to cause the effect of a zombie Apocalypse. But as in the case of rabies virus, it really is to recycle so that it was more effective.

In addition to the villains-scientists, this virus can appear in itself. In nature viruses are constantly mutating. Suffice it to recall the recurring threat strains of influenza or pneumonia.

And these mutations may affect much more dangerous viruses like Ebola virus, anthrax and others. Nature has a certain talent to come up with a really evil ways to quietly kill us, which often, unfortunately, very difficult to study.

The line from the movie «world War Z» very well sum up this article:

«Mother nature is a real serial killer. There’s nothing better or more creative. Like all serial killers she can’t help, but she is feeling sorry for getting caught. So it leaves us a little «bread crumbs». And the hardest part is when we see these babies and we need to find the key. Sometimes, where there is the most brutal part of a virus, there is a chink in its armor. Mother nature loves disguising her weakness as strength. She’s a real bitch.»

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