The Reality and History of Zombies!!!

Dead bodies were thrown in piles, the streets were streams of blood and rotting body parts, mangled bodies were crawling, chewing on limbs. Others were running for their lives hoping they weren't infected - avoiding those who were.

In the 1300's MILLIONS of zombies hobbled though the various cities of Europe - stalking the living. In various stages of decay - some could only crawl, some could not move, and others would stagger along - all with one thing in common - they were infected by a virus that would surely kill them in the coming days and weeks. They were also starving and had skin falling off of their bodies - the smell must have been revolting. Bodily fluids and dead bodies were slewed everywhere and by necessity some of these "walking dead" would be driven to cannibalism. Those still able-bodied would run - trying to avoid being bitten or touched by those infected. Because if they were infected they would share the same fate. There was no cure - so they were literally the "walking dead" - their destiny was death and they knew it. Millions would die and to them - it was literally the apocalypse. Forced to flee and fight their way through thousands of people begging for help, food, and trying to literally eat them.

"How many valiant men, how many fair ladies, breakfast with their kinfolk and the same night supped with their ancestors in the next world! The condition of the people was pitiable to behold. They sickened by the thousands daily, and died unattended and without help. Many died in the open street, others dying in their houses, made it known by the stench of their rotting bodies. Consecrated churchyards did not suffice for the burial of the vast multitude of bodies, which were heaped by the hundreds in vast trenches, like goods in a ships hold and covered with a little earth."—Giovanni Boccaccio

This is not only a true story - it has happened many times throughout humanities history. When Europeans came into contact with the civilizations of the America's they bought a plague that would eliminate millions of people in only a short time - it was just another example of what could only be a very literal "Zombie Apocalypse" These diseases were not pretty and would appear almost exactly how zombies are presented in movies today. Bloody, blisters, skin and limbs hanging from disheveled bodies - thousands of them with only one goal - to survive and quench their hunger by any means necessary.

We have seen how hunger and desperation has driven people to do unimaginable things, the donnar party, the Russians After and During WW2, people stuck adrift at sea - good and moral people can be driven to do just about anything in under duress. So now imagine someone who knew they would die, disfigured and desperate at unimaginable levels - not only would their bodies be falling apart - their minds would soon follow.

"In men and women alike it first betrayed itself by the emergence of certain tumours in the groin or armpits, some of which grew as large as a common apple, others as an egg...From the two said parts of the body this deadly gavocciolo soon began to propagate and spread itself in all directions indifferently; after which the form of the malady began to change, black spots or livid making their appearance in many cases on the arm or the thigh or elsewhere, now few and large, now minute and numerous. As the gavocciolo had been and still was an infallible token of approaching death, such also were these spots on whomsoever they showed themselves."

There have been many plagues with various symptoms. Some are transmitted by breath "Bad air" - some by bite - some sexually - and there are even some that can only be shared by cannibalism itself - some only transmittable by eating an infected human, especially their brain.

 Some of these viruses kill quickly - others take far longer and can inspire strange and definitely zombie like behaviors. The "laughing sickness" Kuru is only one example of a virus transmitted by eating human flesh that causes the infected to lose control of their body and mind. The bubonic plague - the one that ravaged Europe was thought to have originated from China (where they also suffered and a large % of their population was lost) -traveling along the Silk Road - west - within fleas - on rats. These fleas then bit humans and transmitted the virus - but after that it was spread from human to humans - the disease itself even mutating and evolving quickly. (Bacterial vs Viral - still a deadly plague)

Today there is a very latent and real fear of not only being infected by viruses but of a real life "zombie apocalypse" happening. This is manifested in our fascination with zombie movies and viral outbreak films - there are countless examples (List of zombie movies) and this trend is only growing along with our populations. Why? Because not only "could" it happen - it already has, over and over throughout history.


The classic zombie has certain characteristics and behaviors. Most of these would be accurate depending on the disease and it's progression. Shooting it in the head would be the best - because everything stops when the brain does. But a real life 'zombie' would still have to breathe and it's heart would still have to pump. The fictitious zombies's ability to stay animated after it's heart has stop or without blood circulation, wouldn't be possible in reality. Their muscles would be unable to move and without oxygen supplying any part of their body - the brain especially - they would die (again) within minutes. but that is not to say that the human body - even when infected is resilient!

Unlike in movies when someone dies seconds after being shot -anywhere on their body - or being stabbed once in the stomach and dies instantly - in real life people can be stabbed and shot dozens of times and survive and recover. Even if they don't die right away - they won't actually die unless it's from blood loss - while they still have enough pumping through them they would still keep coming. Being so enraged (Bath salts/ pcp/ adrenaline are examples) they wouldn't' feel pain or be dissuaded by threats because they are literally in a state of rage and insanity and know they are going to die anyways.

The human body is VERY resilient. People have survived parachute malfunctions and falling to earth from thousands of feet. People have survived being stabbed dozens of times. People survive gun shot wounds to the head - nails in their brain and countless other examples. Some even survive these viruses - and thankfully so - it was through their immunity and their subsequent generations who re-built after the revelations of the past. But, but even if these immune survivors live - so does the virus held within. When these people come into contact with people who's generations have never been infected - the virus comes back from suppression and the cycle repeats itself - ravaging the new and un-immune people. Australia tried to purposely introduce the Myxomatosis Virus to their uncontrollable population of rabbits. This only worked for a while - that was until the rabbits developed and immunity and a new generation of Myxomatosis immune rabbits re-populated themselves...

But fear not zombie warriors!! Science and medicine is on the precipice of a cure. We are close to not only eliminating viruses but to harness them, reprogram their dna and use them to 'infect' us with upgrades - that will, instead of killing us - fix us. To fix errors in our DNA that cause cancer, genetic disorders, - scientists have ALREADY successfully cured genetically caused BLINDNESS in dogs by using viruses - something that could and will be used to treat the same thing in humans - soon... 

and - of course cure zombies!!

by Derek Bair (Zombie hunter)  &
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