Just because it’s irrational, doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. (originally published October 28, 2015 on oxygen.com)
Zombies are all the rage, and we can see why! The idea of the undead is fun for the whole family, especially since it may not be as unrealistic as you think. Here are five reasons why.
1 It’s Already Happened in Haiti
The word “zombie” comes from Haiti where there have already been documented cases of the undead. The short story is that certain neurotoxins, such as the one found in Japanese blowfish, cause the brain to go dead without destroying the body’s ability to perform basic motor functions as long a the patient is treated with alkaloids. In the late 70’s, voodoo priests used naturally occurring chemicals to zombify human beings to work on their sugar plantations, including one Clairvius Narcisse who had been declared dead and buried in a cemetery eleven years prior. True, the zombies had neither aggressive nor cannibilistic traits, but still. They were dead human beings brought back to life to perform mindless physical tasks. Sounds pretty zombie-like to me. (note: the toxins eventually wear off, so the “zombie people” can be saved, which is cool.)
2 People Own Too Many Goddamned Cats
Found primarily in the guts of cats, Toxoplasma Gondii is an egg laying parasite that infects rats, mice, and other animals typically eaten by cats. The parasite forms cysts in its hosts’ bodies and briains causing them to be attracted to cats, who, in turn, hunt, kill and eat them. Toxoplasma Gondii is the reason pregnant women are told to stay away from kitty litter, as there are a number of links between its presence and schizophrenia in humans. Still not scary enough for you? You know how in The Walking Dead, everyone has the virus already, it just isn’t activated until the host dies? Toxmoplasma Gondii is already present in about half of humans, mostly those who own cats… I’m just saying… cat people are weird enough already…
3 Mad Cow Disease
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease aka mad cow disease causes dementia, changes in gait (walking) muscle stiffness, trouble speaking, and a bunch of other zombie like effects. One in a million people already have it, though symptoms don’t usually develop until an individual is in his or her 60’s, though when it spread to cow brains and then humans ate those cows’ bodies, it affected a bunch of folks who were significantly younger. Though we were able to get the outbreak under control, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease via Mad Cow is an excellent example of how an easily transmitted (as in through the blood aka BITING THROUGH THE SKIN!!) brain disease could quickly do some serious zombie-like damage.
Jewel wasps infect cockroaches, causing them to lose all forms of free will. The roaches mindlessly follow the wasps back to their lair where the wasps lay eggs inside the cockroaches who are STILL ALIVE. After about a month, the eggs hatch and eat their way out of the cockroach who, finally, gets to pass into the next dimension. Glyptapanteles wasps do something similar to caterpillars, too.
Microscopic, self replicating robots that can be inserted into the body and brain to go where no science has been able to go where no science has been able to go before. The nanobots are capable of repairing neuro pathways that have been destroyed, essentially, keeping their host alive after he or she has physically died. Once the host has rotted, the nanobots would seek a new, healthy host continuing the cycle.