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by The Irishman
The popularity of the “Zombie Culture” has undeniably grown over the past few years. According to Google, the keyword Zombie is searched for 24,900,000 times per month globally. Some psychologists believe that the recent boom in popularity stems from one’s feelings of being overwhelmed by issues that face us in everyday life. Problems we face like economic crisis, debt, attacks on civil liberties, and natural disasters cascade across media headlines all over the world. The zombie becomes a representation of this feeling of helplessness, and allows us to face a simulated fear through cinema, and video games; much like a nightmare helps train us of how to react to fear.
As a prepper, and a life-long horror movie buff, I have enjoyed watching the “Zombie Culture” grow. I was very surprised when the CDC Blog posted a Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness < http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2011/05/preparedness-101-zombie-apocalypse/> article in 2011. The post garnered so much attention that the CDC had to post another article explaining that the original was meant to show how zombie apocalypse preparedness would be similar to preparing for real life disasters, but the zombie apocalypse itself was not at hand (and was not probable). This did not discourage others to join in the zombie craze. The History Channel to produce a documentary http://youtu.be/bbVH__mc998 which explored the zombie origins and the history of the undead. And then of course there is the wildly popular AMC Series the Walking Dead, which has made the Zombie Apocalypse a subject around more water coolers than ever before.
As a serious prepper, if I were asked whether or not I would someday be fighting off hordes of the undead, I would have to say it’s not very likely. Instead, I will propose another scenario which I find equally, if not more frightening. This scenario may also be more plausible, and it is similar to the problems you would find yourself trying to solve during a zombie outbreak, but with some important twists.
Imagine that a new virus (or a known agent which has mutated, like Ebola) suddenly begins spreading across the globe. Now let’s imagine that this virus is contracted by transfer of bodily fluids, as well as being airborne, and it is very contagious. The incubation period is short in most, but just long enough to allow an infected individual to travel and spread the virus to almost everyone he or she has contact with. Viruses cannot be cured by antibiotics, and only symptoms can be treated. While Governments all over the world are scrambling to contain the virus, and find a vaccination, the outbreak becomes a pandemic. The military now police the streets, sets up quarantine zones, and locks-down all cities and towns. Those who attempt to flee are shot on sight, or imprisoned.
Eventually the military presence begins to disappear, and they police the boundaries only, letting the nature of the virus take its course. People find themselves scavenging for medical supplies, food, water, and anything else they might need out of pure desperation. With corpses strewn about, and the potential of dirty water, anyone who goes outside may become afflicted.
Here’s why this scenario is potentially more frightening than a Zombie Apocalypse. Without communication of any sort, how would one know who may or may not be infected? How would you know if the person is sick, or simply malnourished? Remember that an infected person may not have visible symptoms, and the virus is airborne rather than transferred solely through fluids. It’s imaginably easy to discern a zombie from a living person in the movies, but that is not always the case in a real life situation. Who can you trust? If a close neighbor wants to join you in your stronghold, do you let them in and risk infecting everyone inside? What about loved ones? Children? There will no doubt be a level of desperation that causes those who are known to be infected, to try and raid your home to steal what you have. They have nothing to lose, yet they are still living people, with thoughts, emotions and needs, and the ability to use weapons against you. People can plan, and execute, zombies cannot. Let’s say for example you have your house boarded up and locked down so no one can get in. What happens if the infected assailants decide to use Molotov cocktails to burn you out?
You would constantly have to balance survival and morality in a scenario such as this. Choices like this have been proposed in Zombie Apocalypse tales as well, but the severity (and reality) of this pandemic would make the timeline much shorter, with massive casualties and potential breakdown of all civility and morality. Could this scenario more or less replicate the horror stories of the walking dead surrounding humanity?
Throughout history viruses have plagued humanity, but we have always persevered. Overuse of antibiotics to treat illness and food sources have created resistant forms of bacteria that may one day haunt us as well. Viruses and bacterial agents pop up all over the world today, even ones we had thought to have eradicated. Mutations in these “bugs” occur as evolution, to survive to infect another day. They can be found in our foods and our water, and have the potential to cause minor illness to fatalities. In a way the CDC Blog post was correct in implying that being prepared for zombies will prepare you for other forms of disaster as well. Having a plan and the supplies to enact it is a good idea. Face masks, sterilizing solutions, wound care, and other necessary medical supplies may help you outlast the outbreak. Having knowledge of natural remedies may help when pharmaceutical supplies run low as well. We have survived plagues and pandemics before, and that’s the good news. Who knows, maybe The Undead are science fiction rather than horror?
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