Monday, October 24, 2011

In the Event of a Zombie Apocalypse

In the Event of a Zombie Apocalypse

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Social Media: Preparedness 101: 
Zombie Apocalypse
The following was originally posted on CDC Public Health Matters Blog on May 16th, 2011 by Ali S. Khan.

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said Z-o-m-b-i-e A-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for any kind of emergency.
A Brief History of Zombies
We’ve all seen at least one movie about flesh-eating zombies taking over (my personal favorite is Resident Evil), but where do zombies come from and why do they love eating brains so much? 
The word zombie comes from Haitian and New Orleans voodoo origins. Although its meaning has changed slightly over the years, it refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead. Through ancient voodoo and folk-lore traditions, shows like the Walking Dead were born.
Photo: A couple dressed as zombies - Danny Zucco and Sandy Olsson from the movie Grease walking in the annual Toronto Zombie Walk.
In movies, TV shows, and literature, zombies are often depicted as being created by an infectious virus, which is passed on via bites and contact with bodily fluids. Harvard psychiatrist Steven Scholzman wrote a (fictional) medical paper on the zombies presented in Night of the Living Dead and refers to the condition as Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome caused by an infectious agent. 
The Zombie Survival Guide identifies the cause of zombies as a virus called solanum. Other zombie origins shown in films include radiation from a destroyed NASA Venus probe (as in Night of the Living Dead), as well as mutations of existing conditions such as prions, mad-cow disease, measles and rabies.
The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen. In such a scenario zombies would take over entire countries, roaming city streets eating anything living that got in their way. The proliferation of this idea has led many people to wonder “How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?”Well, we’re here to answer that question for you, and hopefully share a few tips about preparing for real emergencies too!
Photo: Some of the supplies for your emergency kit.
    Some emergency supplies.
Better Safe than Sorry
So what do you need to do before zombies… or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.Water (4 litres per person per day)
Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)
Once you’ve made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with anemergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door step. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake, or other emergency.

    Photo: Family members meeting by their mailbox. You should pick two meeting places, one close to your home and one farther away.
    Identify the types of emergencies that are possible in your area. Besides a zombie apocalypse, this may include floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If you are unsure contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information. Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home…or your town evacuates because of a hurricane. Pick one place right outside your home for sudden emergencies and one place outside of your neighborhood in case you are unable to return home right away. 
    Identify your emergency contacts. Make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department, and your local zombie response team. Also identify an out-of-state contact that you can call during an emergency to let the rest of your family know you are ok. Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance! This is also helpful when natural disasters strike and you have to take shelter fast.
Never Fear – the good ole CDC is ready
Photo: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Prepared
     Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Prepared
If zombies did start roaming the streets, the CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). 
It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated. 
Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the zombie outbreak, but CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas.
To learn more about how you can prepare for and stay safe during an emergency visit: 

Text & Images via the CDC

 Image via Grindlebone

Rod Brouhard

First Aid for Zombie Bites

Anyone who's ever seen a movie about zombies knows that they are mighty ugly, with bad skin and worse teeth. Many zombies would benefit greatly from a new hairstyle. They have behavioral issues deeply in need of anger management and may be either completely mindless or freak geniuses, with most falling somewhere in between - depending on plot needs.
Zombieism is believed to be contagious, usually spread through biting. In the case of Zombeism, the best cure is an ounce of prevention. You really need to avoid getting a bite in the first place.
In the case of zombies that just shuffle along slowly, it shouldn't be too hard to outrun them (although they will respond well to Michael Jackson music and can move much faster when following choreography). Feel free to defend yourself (best to aim for the head) and avoid getting scratched or bitten at all costs.
One problem with outrunning zombies is their extreme strength. Obstacles you must go around, they just go through. There are several theories on why zombies have such superhuman abilities despite the fact that they can't move very fast. Most of the theories have to do with dramatic effect.
A few tricks to avoid being devoured by zombies:
  1. Don't go outside when you hear screaming. It's either the cheerleader getting bitten or a smart zombie trying to trick you.
  2. Carry weapons. Things that explode should be readily available (although recent plot twists suggest sound attracts more zombies -- don't say I didn't warn you).
  3. Never approach a "dead" body. Zombies are very good at faking death -- because they are dead -- and will jump up and eat you.
  4. Zombies like to hang out with vampires, werewolves, witches, fairy princesses, ghosts, goblins and things that laugh maniacally in the dark -- so avoid those at all costs.
Of course, there are examples of very fast zombies (and staying inside doesn't help much when zombies can just crash through the walls), so outrunning or avoiding doesn't always work. In case you are bitten by a zombie, here's what to do:

  1. Wash the bite with soap and water (this won't help a zombie bite but I'm ethically obligated as a medical writer to tell you to wash everything with soap and water).
  2. If the bite is on an arm or leg, cut it off immediately (and treat the amputation). Maybe it won't spread.
  3. If the bite is on any other part of your body, say something clever - especially if you have a camera solo - and shuffle off to bite someone else.
    Vampires must be turning in their graves as the growing popularity of zombies mindlessly nudge the fanged fiends off of the Top Monster perch. The zombie zeitgeist is in full swing, and with that in mind, it’s time for a post on all things zombilicious – here are our top favorite zombie tidbits, including some zombie background, best zombie films, real life zombies, and important information on what to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse…
Zombies are Born
The word zombie comes from Haitian Creole (zonbi) and North Mbundi (nzumbe). According to the principles of voodoo–the Creole religion–a dead person can be revived by a bokor, or sorcerer–and remain under the control of the bokor since they have no will of their own. Although its meaning has slightly morphed over the years, it basically refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead, brought back to life through means such as magic, witchcraft, a virus, or other ways. Zombies are void of consciousness, yet can function and respond.
Through ancient voodoo and folk-lore traditions, zombies entered the world of entertainment, showing up as early as 1929 in the novel The Magic Island by William Seabrook. The book described the adventures of a man in Haiti who encounters voodoo zombies–most Americans had never been exposed to the concept of the walking dead prior to this. The novel was followed by White Zombie, a 1932 film starring Bela Lugosi–the first film to introduce the word “zombie” to the wider world. The concept grabbed onto the imagination of the public and spawned a culture of films and novels that seems not to be dying any time soon.
Many of the novels and films about zombies center around apocalyptic futures where the few survivors are sought out by their zombie human counterparts; usually hunting for human flesh, often specifically brains. Sometimes the zombies are victims of a pandemic illness causing the dead to reanimate or the living to behave this way, but often no such plot at all is given in the story.
Zombie Flicks
The real heart (or brains) of the zombie matter is in the zombie movie. Here is a list of ten awesome zombie movies.
10. Fido (2006)
09. Day of the Dead (1985) 
08. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
07. Zombie (1979)
06. Deadgirl (2008)
02. Braindead (1992)
01. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Real-Life Zombies
Paranormal Haze has some kooky spooky tales of parasitic beings in the natural world who make for some rather compelling zombie corollaries. And folks, these aren’t the things of movies! Here’s their offering of zombie insects that prove the old maxim, the truth is creepier than fiction:
The Weta 
The weta (shown above) is a large insect - some species growing as large as 4 inches long - native to New Zealand. They have a very nasty bite and can inflict painful bacteria laced scratches with their spiny legs. Their physical appearance is cricket-like but with a few distinguishing features. These creatures mere existence is terrifying but combine this with the fact that these insects are undead and you have one formidable zombie bug.
The tree weta have a protein in their blood that prevents water from freezing. Weta can survive being frozen alive for months at time in temperatures as low as -10°C by putting themselves in a suspended animation, something like Sly Stallone in Demolition Man. This is an impressive feat, but it is also important to note that while in this suspended animation the weta’s heart and brain dies then recovers upon thawing out. This bug is technically a zombie.
Wolf Spider
Scientists at the University of Rennes in France collected 120 Wolf Spiders and submerged them underwater and waited for them to die. After all signs of life left their little spider bodies (some stayed submerged for 40 hours) the scientists laid the corpses out to dry so they could later weigh them.
A few hours later the spiders rose from the dead. Even though they were not craving brains, the spiders still appeared to be zombies. When threatened with drowning the spiders enter a comatose state where their metabolism virtually stops and all signs of life cease (the description of this comatose state seems like death). After things get dry they awake and carry on with their business as if nothing ever happened.
The Jewel Wasp
The jewel wasp is a solitary wasp that is known for its bizarre reproductive practice. The wasp stings a roach, herds it like a sheep into its nest, and then proceeds to lay an egg on the roach’s abdomen so its little baby will have plenty to eat upon hatching. So how does this relate to zombies? 
The jewel wasp systematically stings the roach in the abdomen. This temporarily paralyzes the roach’s front legs so the wasp can now finish its work. Next, the wasp stings the roach in the brain. The venom of the wasp then disables the roach’s escape reflex getting rid of the cockroach’s will to live. 
The wasp has created a zombie roach, but it is not done. Eventually the roach can walk again, but now has no desire to run from the wasp. The wasp then begins walking the roach like dog using the roach’s antenna as a leash. What happens next is perhaps best described by science writer Robert Zimmer: 
The zombie roach crawls where its master leads, which turns out to be the wasp’s burrow.” Once there the roach allows the wasp to lay an egg on its abdomen. Then the zombified cockroach quietly sits in the wasps burrow and awaits the egg to hatch. Once the egg hatches, the wasp larva will live inside the roach until it emerges from it as an adult. Good luck getting to sleep tonight…
Text & Images via Care2
Human Zombies


Now, I don’t mean metaphorical human zombies like in the sense that we are all zombies because we lumber about our daily routines, go to our nine-five jobs, come home, go to bed, and repeat. What I'm talking about is literal human zombies!
Clairvius Narcisse was a Haitian man who was declared dead on May 2, 1962. His two sisters, Marie Claire and Angelina, buried him in a small cemetery near his hometown. 18 years pass and his family has carried on with their lives. Angelina is in the marketplace of her village when her deceased brother approaches her and introduces himself. How is this possible?
Certain kinds of poisons, like the secretion of a Japanese blowfish, can put someone in a comatose state and make them appear dead even to a doctor. Narcisse had ingested some poison like this and when he slipped into his death-like state was buried.
Then someone came and dug him up. Upon awakening he was given doses of a “zombie powder” which contained the drug Datura Stramonium. The drug puts the user into an emotionless, trance-like state, but the user can still perform menial tasks. In Narcisse’s case he was used as slave labor on a sugar plantation. He was a zombie-slave for 18 years.
You don’t like zombies of the voodoo variety? Are you disappointed because when you read “Zombie Humans” you were hoping for an overly aggressive, mindless killing machine as seen in almost every zombie movie since Night Of The Living Dead (1968)? Well don’t worry because human zombies of this kind are not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
Seretonin is a chemical in our brain that helps keep us calm, but according to one scientific study done with mice, it also keeps us from being aggressive killing machines. A group of scientists created a group of mutant mice whose brains lacked the receptors to process seratonin and this resulted in the mice acting overly aggressive toward other organisms. Now Imagine a virus with the ability to prevent human brains from processing seratonin. 
You could also imagine a parasite that takes control of our brain and makes us do unimaginable things. Not possible you say? Evolution tells us otherwise. Spinochordodes tellinii is a parasite that gets inside grasshoppers and releases a protein that interferes with their brain and makes them commit suicide by downing.
Euhaplorchis californiensis gets inside the brain of killi fish and makes them swim and flop around on the surface of the water so it is more likely for it to get eaten by a bird. There is also a parasite that some scientists believe already changes human behavior.Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that is normally found in cats. It gets there by getting into rats through the filth they eat. It affects the rat’s behavior by making them friendlier toward cats so they are more likely to be eaten by said cats. Once inside the cats it begins reproducing. It sounds like a morbid Dr. Seuss book.
The parasite also gets inside humans and causes no physically harmful effects, but according to one psychological study it does change our personality. The study found that people tend to get more insecure when infected with the parasite (perhaps this explains emo kids). It also changed the personalities of men and women in different ways. It made men more jealous and suspicious and made women more affectionate.
How long before a parasite evolves that changes human behavior a bit more drastically? Perhaps a parasite that turns us into undead, cannibalistic killing machines… Only time will tell. Text & Images via Paranormal Haze

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