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OKLAHOMA CITY – Halloween is approaching fast, and believe it or not, part of the zombie myth is rooted in biomedical science, According to OMRF.

“There are quasi-scientific roots to almost all of your classic monsters,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “And zombies are no exception.”

According to researchers, in movies, TV and popular fiction, zombies were once people who were transformed by a horribly mutated—and contagious—virus or parasite. “Considering recent scares over both avian and swine flu,” said Prescott, “that might not seem so far-fetched.”

In fact, said Prescott, a disease called African trypanosomiasis, or “sleeping sickness,” shares some traits of a zombie infection. A parasite called Trypanosoma brucei is delivered in the bite of a tsetse fly. After initially causing headache, fever, joint pain and itching, the parasite invades the brain, where it disrupts the sleep cycle and triggers confusion, tremors and paralysis.

“This is an infection that carries nightmarish qualities. 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,” Prescott said.

Although there is no vaccine, Prescott says that we needn’t fear an outbreak of sleeping sickness. “America’s climate is not amenable to the tsetse fly, and without the tsetse fly, this illness doesn’t exist,” he said.

Other than the zombies lurking the streets on Halloween night, people shouldn’t worry about zombies existing in today’s world.

Send KFOR all the zombies you come across this Halloween.