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The Zombie virus awakens?

by Kiko Cueto

IT’S past three in the morning. You wake up to screams coming from outside of your room. You take a peek and hear gunshots as your parents open fire against bloodied individuals slowly moving towards them.

Courtesy: Unsplash/Nathan Wright

They asked you to barricade your door and hide. You did what you’re told. As you tried to find things to shut your door, you glanced at the window. Screaming can be heard outside as well. 

Courtesy: AFP

You looked. Madness is a word you said to yourself as people ran away from other people. 

You moved away. You tried to get a grasp of what was happening. It was straight up a horror movie – the zombie virus has awakened.

The Zombie Virus

In 2014, geneticist Jean Michel Claverie of Aix-Marseille University led a team of scientists that isolated live viruses in Siberia, and even showed that they could still infect single-cell organisms – even though they had been buried in permafrost for thousands of years. 

Their research showed the existence of several different viral strains coming from seven different sites in Siberia, which could infect cultured cells. 

Among those, was a virus sample that was 48,500 years old.

Otherwise known as the Methuselah microbes – or zombie viruses – they have already been isolated by researchers who have raised fears that a new global medical emergency could be triggered by its resurrection.

This poses a threat to humanity that may face a bizarre new pandemic threat, with ancient viruses frozen in the Artic permafrost being released one day as the Earth heats up due to global warming, releasing these agents of death, awakening them from their slumber.

Jean-Michel Claverie is pictured here working in the subsampling room at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Postsdam, where the cores of permafrost were kept.

Courtesy: Jean Michel Claverie

Prof. Claverie tested earth samples taken from a Siberian permafrost, so as to whether any viral particles contained therein are still infectious. 

He’s in search of what he describes as “zombie viruses” — and he has found some.

Prof. Claverie said the particular type of virus he first discovered in 2003, known as “giant viruses,” are much bigger than the typical variety and visible under a regular light microscope.

Among his noted efforts to detect viruses frozen in permafrost came from partly inspired by a team of Russian scientists who in 2012, was able to revive a wildflower that came from a 30,000 year-old-tissue.

Courtesy: Unsplash Ivan Alecsik

While the term zombies is often used in movies, are there real life incidents? Apparently, there is.

In October of 2019, the medical news today published an article on the investigation of such cases. It said that in the 1990s, Dr. Chavannes Douyon and Prof. Roland Littlewood investigated the so-called “Haitian zombies.”

They were said to be reanimated, but mindless humans.

Three individuals were identified, and one was a 30-year-old woman who had, allegedly, quickly died after having fallen ill. But three years after her death, her family said she saw her walking as a “zombie.” 

Another recorded incident was that of an 18-year-old who “died” and then reemerged after another 18 years at a cockfight.

Their final study was that another woman “died” at 18 but was spotted again as a zombie 13 years after this event.

These findings have spooked the international community.

The Truth about the virus

The Zombie virus. The name itself can top a Hollywood blockbuster movie. But how much of this is true?

People love a good scare once in a while. It gets the blood pumping and the excitement builds up.

Courtesy: AFP

Classics such as the Night of the Living Dead, The Walking Dead or the Resident Evil game. Almost everyone have seen or played the game.

So, is the zombie virus real? And can it cause people to become like what we see in movies?

Well, yes and no.

Assistant Professor Jeremy Barr from Monash University gave a clear and basic definition of what zombie viruses truly are.

He said that they are essentially “frozen in time” but scientists found when they thaw out permafrost soil samples they can revive the viruses – and are still infectious. 

This is the reason why they’re given the name “zombie virus” because they have returned to life.

Plain and simple.

So, is it not a threat? Well, it still is. An infection caused by a zombie virus usually leads to increased decay and cell death, much like necrotizing fasciitis. 

The necrotizing fasciitis is a flesh-eating disease that affects your muscle fascia (thin, connective tissue) under the surface of your skin and causes those tissues to die.

But what about the “Haitian Cases.”

The study showed that the three carry what was called a “Cotard’s Syndrome.”

It is a case where people are convinced that they are dead.

The first “zombie” is said to have catatonic schizophrenia, a rare condition that makes the person act like walking in a stupor. The second experienced brain damage, and had epilepsy, and  third had a learning disability.

But there is also a specific psychiatric disorder called Cotard’s syndrome that can cause people to act like zombies. This is because they are under the delusion that they are dead or decomposing.

But one thing bothers me, if global warming continues, what other type of viruses can be thawed or awakened. Will it lead to another pandemic? No one knows for sure, but we better prepare.

Thank you for reading this far. If you liked or had fun with what you read, please give it a thumbs up or share and subscribe. That really helps out with the algorithms. 

If you have an idea or thought you’d like us to tackle simply email me at [email protected].

Until then, this has been republicasia’s cryptic files. 

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