Perhaps because they were easier to control and kill, zombies
never acquired the cachet of their vampiric cousins. This phenomenon extended to science: zombic research was considered a less glamorous field and consistently lagged behind vampiric research in funding. Since development of the vaccine in 1911, the zombic threat has been greatly reduced. However, this should not make us complacent: most experts believe that in today's world, a zombism outbreak is far more likely than a vampirism outbreak.
Zombic plague spreaders:|
the brown rat and the hard tick
The human zombism virus (HZV)
comes from the same Mononegavirales order as the human vampirism virus, and bears the same distinct bullet shape—although it's only twice the size of rabies, while HVV is triple. The virus is propagated mainly through ticks of the family Ixodidae, which have hard shells instead of soft shells. The prevalence of these ticks in tropical climes is the main reason for the large number of outbreaks in those regions. The nature of the spread of zombic plagues generally depends on the place of origin: most urban plagues were spread by aggressive rats that had been bitten by an infected tick; in the country, the tick would bite humans directly, or pass the virus through mice, raccoons and other mammals.
As is the case with vampirism, humans infected with HZV mainly pass it from their saliva into the bloodstream of another through biting.
Regarding the virus' evolutionary lineage, structural and genetic similarities between HVV and HZV suggest that both vampires and zombies share a common ancestor, which was likely more zombie-like than vampiric.
Stages of the Disease
The stages of zombic transformation are the same as those that occur in vampires, with two major differences: for zombism, the onset of symptoms and transformation occur much faster, and has no relation to the cycles of day and night. If the victim is bitten by a zombie, there's also the added risk of the wound becoming septic, since zombic mouths are ridden with dangerous bacteria and other microbes. In most cases, it can only become fatal if the victim is vaccinated without also being treated with antibiotics, as the virus can prevent death from taking place.
Stage One: Infection.
The zombism virus,|
magnified 6,500 times
Symptoms of zombism appear quickly: within one or two hours, the victim will develop a headache, fever, chills and other flu-like symptoms, along with extreme thirst, severe itching and increased heart rate and metabolism. This stage lasts about half as long as its vampiric counterpart—mostly between three and six hours, during which the vaccine is 99 percent effective. Unlike vampire bites, zombie bites clot pretty quickly; however, the higher bacteria count can cause even worse pain and inflammation, with copious amounts of pus.
Stage Two: Coma.
A bite victim under quarantine|
in Panama; 1905
Zombic comas are considerably more brief than vampiric comas, lasting only four to six hours as opposed to a day. Unfortunately, even though the fever is shorter, it also burns higher, which ends up causing brain damage. Only the very young and very old do not survive zombic comas, although zombies have been found as young as five and as old as 90. As with vampirism, the vaccine is 50 percent effective when administered during Stage Two of the infection: the longer the victim has been in the coma, the less effective the vaccine. Cardiac arrest occurs within two to three hours as blood flow, breathing, metabolism and body temperature plummet to almost nothing.
Stage Three: Transformation. Zombies awaken from their comas in a catatonic state. They are unresponsive to most stimuli as they shuffle about, trying to locate their prey. Unlike vampires, there is no acclimation period: zombies will begin hunting immediately upon transformation.
Unlike vampire victims, those attacked by zombies can sustain horrific injuries as they are literally eaten alive. However, because zombic saliva contains a potent coagulant (as opposed to the anticoagulants in vampiric saliva), the victim is usually able to survive having flesh and even entire limbs chewed off as they (luckily) go unconscious from a combination of intense agony, acute blood loss, and the narcotic-like effect of zombic saliva. As long as the victim remains intact enough so that their heart keeps beating, they will eventually transform into a zombie as well.
Perhaps because zombies weren't as much of a threat to our ancestors, natural immunity against the zombism virus isn't nearly as common as with vampirism—only one in every 450 people as opposed to one in every 150—so immune blood was a lot harder to come by for treatment purposes. Fortunately, there was a silver lining.
FVZA scientists at a vaccine|
production facility; 1944
Compared to the human vampirism virus, the creation of a zombism vaccine was a much simpler process. In the year 1911, the French had accomplished this all-important task by using the same method as many other vaccines: chemically-killed virus suspended in a solution that's injected into the patient's muscle tissue. It was dubbed the "Pasteur Project," in honor of Louis Pasteur's groundbreaking medical research in the years before his death in 1895.
As for post-exposure infections, a transfusion of immune or inoculated blood was required to provide antibodies along with the vaccine, until the creation of the human zombism immune globulin during the 1950s Zozobra Project.
Sadly, as with their vampiric counterparts, every available dose of the zombism vaccine and globulin is currently stored at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia—and in equally-limited numbers (approximately 250,000).
Continue to Zombic Biology
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