ThatBiologist does Halloween Again


This time last year we were looking at all things halloween, although I’m not doing a full weeks worth of blogs I couldn’t not write on one of my favourite holidays of the year! So as a special blog this year I thought we might delve into the world of zombies.


How to make a zombie?

We’ve all seen the zombie apocalypse movies, where some indeterminate disease plagues most of the global population in a matter of days. What I want to ask is how the hell would that happen?

Firstly we would need to find a disease which is capable of creating zombie like properties. Below is my list of criteria for the zombie, now I’ve tried to keep it to your general zombie as most zombie creations are slightly different for example World War Z zombies were nothing like Shaun of the Dead zombies:

  • Generally slow moving unless drawn to prey
  • Cannot speak
  • Unable to feel pain or really any emotion
  • Fondness for brains
  • Brain dead for the most part

Now we have the criteria now we need a disease that causes these symptoms. It also needs to be highly contagious. So what could that be?

Disease Option 1: Sleeping Sickness

This is a pretty horrific disease that starts out pretty tame then gets bad really quickly. Its real name is African Trypanosomiasis and its caused by the bite of an infected fly. The symptoms start out with a headache and muscle aches but escalate when the parasite invades the brain. This then causes slurred speech and causes irregular sleeping patterns. Eventually this causes the patient to go into a coma and die. It currently only affects people living in sub saharan africa but that tiny fly could easily cause an apocalypse if it fancied going on a world tour!

Disease Option 2: Rabies

You’ve probably heard of this one before. Rabies is a viral infection that targets the brain and nervous system. Symptoms for rabies include:

  • a high temperature (fever)
  • an irrational fear of water (hydrophobia)
  • sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • fear of drafts of air (aerophobia)
  • confusion or aggressive behaviour

Sounds like a zombie cocktail to me! Its passed from infected animals through a bite scratch or lick to broken skin and as soon as the symptoms are present you’re a gonner. Although this is where this disease fails to make the zombie apocalypse happen in that it is incredibly rare for the disease to pass from human to human. So you’d have to set an apocalypse of infected animals free first.

Great! The perfect recipe for a zombie apocalypse however before you go and unleash this perfect storm a little word of advice. Don’t do it! We do not have a Brad Pitt/ Simon Pegg to save the world! Again however if you do end up in a zombie apocalypse the best thing I suggest to do is:

Image result for go to the winchester

Just a quick note before I sign off. Thanks for letting me be silly with science! My masters degree can get a little serious at times and this is a fantastic place to have fun with the science I love! Anyways enough soppyness! 

Stay safe and have a great Halloween!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!





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