Essay:Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse- Things to Consider
Note- This is a hypothetical outbreak. It is SIMPLY AN ANALOGY and not reality. This actually targets those who want a zombie apocalypse (If you read this essay and not skim across it). If you want a zombie apocalypse then you are fucking stupid. Zombies depicted in the media are fiction. However, viruses, parasites, bacteria, fungi and prions do exist. Some such as Rabies virus can alter the mental state of a victim and evolution does happen. This is a public service announcement from User:Rationalzombie94
Okay, the zombie apocalypse is a concept in popular culture. Books, games and movies have depicted various types of zombies/zombie plagues. Many have unrealistic ways of surviving or the outright distortion of human physiology and microbiology (even Chemistry). Survival is shown via looting stores and unrealistic head shots. This is intended to analyze survival in the apocalyptic wasteland of the living dead.
The most likely candidate for a pathogen would be a parasite or a fungal spore. In most zombie media, the infection is depicted as a viral strain that reanimates the dead. The physiology of infection is almost unexplained and is shown to be 100% infectious. Though people are shown to get infected blood in their mouths and eyes without infection.
Our Hypothetical Pathogen
We will go with a Pork Tapeworm, it can infect the brain and cause meningitis. Lets say over time (10-20 year time period with some human infections), the parasite evolves to animate a human corpse. The parasite produces eggs in human saliva. The infection rate is 75%. The infection allows the host to retain some memory so the infected can use tools and hunt in groups. Lets say the zombies prefer hunting at night because the sun damages cell production (heat does damage cells and proteins). Evolution does not produce perfect organisms, just allows adaption to survive in the environment.
Our infected subjects are reanimated flesh eating corpses with a 75% infection rate. Considering their human happy meals would go on the defense, the living dead would need a stable host. While someone is human, the infection goes into the brain and rewires cell production. The parasite might force the body to produce stem cells and blood cells. This would allow the host to stay around for a long time till it can get its next meal. Parasites are still living organisms and need to stay alive plus they need food. It would not want to destroy its host.
So the parasite can stay alive, chances are that the primary worms would live in the center of the brain. Allowing control of the brain, its functions and providing a fairly safe area for reproduction. Thus- headshots become more difficult to pull off. Complete decapitation of a host would be the best way to destroy an infected person, but chances of infection increase due to blood exposure.
A pathogen does NOT cause symptoms within seconds (example- 28 Days Later), it takes at least a day for an infection to cause symptoms. Realistically speaking, our pathogen will have a 3-6 day incubation period (considering underlying medical conditions, such as HIV or Cerebral Palsy).
Note- it is a brain parasite
Initial Symptoms (2-3 days after infection)
- Sinus Swelling
- Sneezing (possibly spreading infectious eggs on to surfaces)
Major Symptoms (3-6 days after infection
- Slurred speech
- Heart Palpitation
- Coma/Clinical Death
The Pork Tapeworm is transmitted from eating undercooked pork. Chances are that the initial outbreak would be in an area with high amounts of pig farms. So ground zero will be Jackson, Michigan. It is a big town and is fairly close to pig farms.
The first few hundred people become infected via undercooked pork. In the incubation period, people start becoming sick. Most make appointments with their primary care physicians. The doctors figure it is the flu and give antiviral medications. Others just stay home while a few go to the emergency room. In four days, some of the infected die from the parasite then reanimate. The number of zombies is at 80, the first generation of zombies bite 500 people. 320 people are infected. Ten days down the road, the rest of the initial infected die and reanimate. The number of zombies is over 1300 people.
The number of murders reported by the police raises exponentially. The murders are blamed on drug addicts. Violent fights increase as do robberies.
11 days after the parasitic outbreak began, the number is zombies is about 2700. Emergency services are swamped with calls for help. Robbers raid stores and pharmacies for supplies (forget about getting that gallon of milk from Wal-Mart). A black market is formed to obtain supplies, stores in operation begin price gouging their items.
17 days out and the health department concludes an infection is spreading. Lab results are sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The governor declares a quarantine. The number of zombies is at 10,000. Those who are uninfected barricade themselves in their homes, some flee town before the quarantine. Civil unrest starts and people take shelter in schools, churches and hospitals. Infection starts in shelters as a few infected people enter.
23 days out and much of Jackson, Michigan's population has become zombies or are killed. The number of immune humans is at 1000 people but a number of them are picked clean by the dead. The National Guard is struggling to keep the infected away from the barricade. Several soldiers get infected. Over 200 zombies break through the quarantine zone. Gangs take control of the streets and kill other humans.
One month out and only a few hundred people remain. This is out of 33,000 people. The zombies ignore those immune, the first ones to eat immune people ended up dying for good. Human rights groups lobby against the firebombing of the town. They convince the federal government not to bomb the city.
Regional Outbreak (Four weeks after the first infections)
37 days out and cases of the so-called Human Reanimation Parasitosis reaches 70,000 people; the number of zombies is at 50,000 people. This is due to attacks in small towns and people traveling to other towns. Cases appear in Lansing, Flint, Ovid, Owosso, and Saint Johns. The CDC shows up to infected areas. FEMA is deployed to provide relief. SWAT and National Guard teams begin searches for infected people. Travel is restricted.
41 days out and crooks make a placebo vaccine to sell on the black market. People are tricked into believing it works. These crooks make hundreds of thousands of dollars. People end up infected, thinking they can survive being bitten due to the placebo. Alex Jones-like people start claiming it is caused by "evil pagans working for the New World Order" and calls for a revolution. Right wing groups begin terrorist attacks, causing more infections; people out in the streets disrupt emergency response and get infected themselves.
58 days out and the infection consumes most of central Michigan. Order in big cities have broke down. Smaller towns don't fare much better, the political based terrorist attacks continue and destroy order. Urban evacuations are ordered. The number of zombies are at 120,000. The FAA grounds non-governmental air traffic. Canada and Mexico close their borders. The Army is deployed to Michigan to fight the living dead. The Army restores order to a few small towns.
64 days out and the parasite spreads to Ohio and Indiana. The President declares infected areas disaster zones. Military personnel get stretched thin by rebel groups declaring civil war. Rebel groups start terror campaigns in major cities across the nation. The number of zombies is at 580,000. Hospitals are abandoned. Public health agencies are tasked with creating a vaccine.
85 days out and there is little human activity in central Michigan. Over 2 million zombies are recorded by the National Institutes of Health and the CDC. The United States government declares war on the rebel groups and zombies. The chaos from the fighting has claimed 4 million lives.
After 200 days cases of the disease pop-up in Mexico and Cuba via contaminated pork. The epidemic cause infection in pigs from Zoonosis. This Zoonosis happened via pigs eating contaminated fecal matter from humans. The American government is now in shambles. Rebel groups (left and right wing) took control of uninfected cities. 60 million zombies roam the United States and thousands roam Mexico. The Cuban government orders search-and-destroy missions.
One year down the road and many nations had become infected. The consumption and transport of pork has been made illegal by the UN. Those who were immune have been rounded up and medical samples were taken for vaccine research.
One year and four months down the road, a vaccine is developed with success. The parasite had a weakness in its genetic code allowing antibodies to destroy the worm. The vaccine is mass produced and sent to surviving nations. However, the anti-vaccine community protested the new vaccine and more extreme groups attacked shipments of the vaccine. This allowed infections to skyrocket; this was made much worse by faith healing churches.
Two years down the road and most nations are destroyed. The only effective way to kill the undead is decapitation but blood splatter infected other people. By the middle of the second year, only Russia remained as a stable nation. Paranoia and propaganda destroyed efforts to keep nations stable. Other nations became divided and controlled by fringe nations. The surviving population of 5 million humans get vaccinated.
Five years down the road and civilization is being rebuilt. The zombies begin to rot as the vaccinated give off a scent that repelled the zombies. Because the zombies cannot eat humans anymore, they begin eating animals. As the year progresses, the parasite mutates and animals become zombies. The undead animals attack people and kill them.
Six years down the road and the new strain infects people. While the new generation of zombies can infect other humans, the infection rate drops to 20%. The human population is now at 2 million. Fighting among people brings humanity to a dark age.
Issue #1 with zombie survival- Food and Water
Disasters have shown that stores get raided out within days (Example- Hurricane Katrina). People fought and killed each other over food supplies after a catastrophic event. There would probably be a quarantine so supply chains get disrupted. In zombie movies, survivors are shown raiding stores years after the plague begins. Water would stop flowing without people to operate the pumps (minus people who have well water). As the infection spreads, further disruptions of food and water supplies. FEMA would be stretched to the breaking point. Federal assistance would be slow going, depending on response time. So you better enjoy purifying water and growing your own food!!! :)
Issue #2 with zombie survival- Medicine
Forget about going to the pharmacy for your heart medication! Or your Insulin! Supply chains would be disrupted. Pharmacies would be raided. Once looters run out of medicine and the government collapses, medical research on a large scale would stop. Welcome back to square one with medical research! It would be like the middle ages. Small cuts can get badly infected and your die of sepsis, heart attacks cannot be treated, bowl obstructions would kill you. So if you want medicine, better raid university research lab and grow medicinal herbs (When I said "Back at square one"- I meant it). Assuming you are not killed by zombies or die of disease or the elements of nature, you get the joy of doing years of medical research. By any chance you make a viable medicine for trials on people, you might kill people in the trials.
Issue #3 with zombie survival- Hostile Survivors
Zombies will not be your only enemy. Other humans can end up as a deadly enemy. If you cannot kill another human, you WILL die. Plain and simple. No sugar coating this. There will be a number of hostile survivors, this will include- fundamentalist cults, people who simply went insane, militias, political extremists, sexual extremists (those who discriminate against gender at an extreme level, for lack of a better term), Environmental extremists and political extremists. These groups will be have further explanation.
What better way to control scared people? Lying and coercion! Arguably, religion is considered bad. That is not always the case (the author is okay with religion). However, there are those who use religion and distort it to control people. These types (example: Harold Camping, Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson) will use their distorted theology to preach violence and mass murder. If you come across these weirdos: RUN!!!! Not only will they preach violence and mass murder, they say it is "Biblical Prophecy" and it needs to be done. Try to avoid detection and flee as quick as possible. They most likely have heavy weapons they built up before the outbreak via black market purchase or theft. Unless you have planned ahead, have enough people who can fight and enough supplies to fight; you will lose.
Mental illness is a major issue in society, it is dangerous if left untreated and has various causes. Knowing supply chains will be gone, medicine cannot be shipped. Thus people with mental illness cannot get their medications. Death caused by the pandemic is going to cause mental trauma. Peoples mental health will be damaged. There will be people who go completely insane. As bad as it is, you have to defend yourself. Someone who goes insane will be dangerous. While mental illness is illness, you will have to kill them. Ethical issues will be raised but it is Fight or Die. They will probably be armed.
No matter where you are on the political spectrum, there are extremists. Does not matter if they are Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Communist or Theocratic, they take their political views and use violence to obtain their goals. Like cults, they probably are heavily armed and have large numbers of supporters. Avoid at all costs. This category does overlap with fundie cults.
Bandits and Robbers
These people will attack you and steal you supplies, likely with lethal means. All you can do is fight them off.
Issue #4 with zombie survival- The weather
Snow storms can cause trouble in normal society, they can ground flights and cover the roads. Salt and plow trucks clear the roads and everything runs smoothly. A hurricane hits coastal cities and causes destruction. Homes are destroyed, travel is slowed down to a trickle as roads would be blocked by floods and debris. The government and NGO's provide relief so people have food and shelter. Now if a zombie pandemic happened, all forms of assistance are gone. A city gets hit with a hurricane in the post-apocalyptic world and they are screwed. Flooding and debris causes enough trouble but now you have infectious flesh eating zombies lurking in the water (it is not like zombies breath). Escape is unlikely and communication would be extremely limited. Don't expect FEMA to help you (unless you are Alex Jones, he would jump for joy. Though he would come up with other bullshit to complain about on the digital ruins of the internet).
Add your thoughts! Post your views and criticism! Once you add your thoughts, put your username next to it
Under issue #3, you're forgetting the most obvious example of hostile survivors- bandits and raiders. Following issues #1 and #2, it is probable that a considerable number of survivors may decide that it would be much easier for them to take your food, water, and the like rather than producing their own. If you're lucky, they'll force you to pay tribute to them in exchange for their not attacking. If not, they'll just take whatever they want from you or even kill you outright if they think they can get away with it. With no kind of law enforcement around, survivors will need to band together if they wish to avoid becoming a prime victim for a gang of robbers. --Logos (talk) 18:27, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Also, how would a tapeworm which has specifically adapted to living in an animal's gut and also requires a secondary host not only evolve to parasitize the brain but also develop an entirely different mode of transmission? I could see some connection to neurocysticercosis, but even in that case the bulk of the symptoms are not directly generated by or beneficial to the worm; they're mostly due to either physical damage due to the pressure the cysts create in the brain or inflicted by the immune system's overreaction to the dying cysts.
Even if this massive shift in transmission and pathogenesis did somehow evolve at what would be an unprecedented speed for any kind of evolved trait, it doesn't explain how merely stimulating the production of blood and stem cells after clinical death would allow for reanimation. There would be no way for the parasite to reverse the degredation of body process that would have already happened between death and reanimation unless the parasite destroys only the specific parts of the brain responsible for higher mental functions while somehow leaving everything else fully functional- and in that case they aren't actually zombies since they wouldn't technically be dead. --Logos (talk) 22:00, 6 January 2019 (UTC)