OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma scientist says the zombie myth has scientific roots.
“There are quasi-scientific roots to almost all of your classic monsters,” OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. said. “And zombies are no exception.”
Dr. Prescott said the popular creatures in movies were once people who had been transformed by a horribly mutated and contagious virus or parasite.
“Considering recent scares over both avian and swine flu, that might not seem so far-fetched,” Dr. Prescott said.
He said a disease called African trypanosomiasis, or “sleeping sickness,” shares some traits of a zombie infection.
People usually get the infection after a bite from a Tsetse fly.
It starts out with headaches, joint pain, fever and itching.
Then the parasite invades the brain where it disrupts the human sleep cycle which leads to confusion, tremors and can even lead to paralysis.
“This is an infection that carries nightmarish qualities,” Dr. Prescott said. “In the final stages, it can reduce many of its victims to a zombie-like state before they fall into a coma and experience organ failure, which leads to death.”
No vaccine currently exists for this illness but doctors say you don’t need to worry about an outbreak.
“America’s climate is not amenable to the tsetse fly and without the tsetse fly, this illness doesn’t exist,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control is always on the lookout for new outbreaks.
Just in case, they have a “Zombie Preparedness” section on their website.
“Our public health infrastructure has plenty of experience dealing with emerging influenza pandemics, so a zombie apocalypse should be no problem,” Dr. Prescott said.