Wednesday, 19 September 2012

ZOMBIES!!! (part 2)

I thought I'd start of with something a little bit not-too-serious. Most of the internet has, is, or will discuss the advent of a zombie apocalypse. Whether you want it to happen or not, it pays to know what the most likely scenario is. Therefore, I'm going to start with a three-part mini-series on the risk of zombification. You know, just for fun...

SCENARIO 2: Infection by degenerative brain diseases, such as CJD.

Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease is a degenerative brain disease in which proteins in the brian 'unfold' causing holes to form giving the brain a sponge-like appearance. Often claimed to be related to BSE (although in actuality it is vCJD which is) as they have similar effects, the disease can be transmitted in certain forms through consumption of contaminated meat. Other causes are hereditary, via implantation of contaminated tissues, or appear spontaneously.
Symptoms of CJD begin with agressive dementia, which can cause hallucinations, memory loss and personality disorders. It can also lead to physical disorders such as speech impediments, motor problems, and seizures.
The disease is fatal, but the length of time a victim survives can vary greatly. Typically victims will sucumb within six months, often due to additional medical complications, rather than the disease. Certain forms, such as sCJD, can cause death within a few weeks.[1]
The disease is most prevalent in North America, Western Europe (including the UK), The Middle East and Japan, and typically it's areas of contamination overlap those of BSE.

RISK: At the moment, there is little chance of a typical zombie outbreak caused by CJD, it's variants, or BSE. There is little evidence to show that aggression is an effect of the disease (even though personality changes are observed), which would be a necessity for an apocalypse scenario. Whilst there is a link between cannibals and CJD (called Kuru) there is no proven link in the opposite direction. Furthermore, there is a small infection rate, and major areas of the planet (Russia, Africa, South America) are all almost exempt from infection. If the disease were to advance to a point where a large portion of the population were infected, a "slow zombie" scenario may evolve.
Will it Zombies? No.

Total risk: 2/5

[1]Gambetti, Pierluigi: Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.

* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Classic)". 26/2/2008

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