Warning: This post is intended for humor and pseudo-scientific postulation purposes ONLY. The author neither endorses a belief in zombies, nor does she believe herself. Neither does the author intend to attack believers in the Voodoo religion; she intends merely to cast light on a historical religious practice that she believes unethical. She apologizes in advance for her very Western, Christian, white-middle-class-American tendencies and narrow worldview. The following post’s practical value is only in preparedness for worldwide epidemics, natural disasters, and nuclear threats. Thank you for your attention.
She also apologizes for speaking about herself in third person for two whole paragraphs. Haha, she does love bold-face font…
Good, now that we’ve got that out of the way, here we go. (You can find the first two posts of the Theoretic Science series here and here.
I am known far and wide for being both a nerd and a geek, with a tendency to over-think magic systems, theoretic technology, etc. And I tend to have thoughts that other people don’t ever seem to think. It is most emphatically not my fault. I read too much fiction, maybe.
Anyway, one of my more celebrated exploits occurred not because I thought it was “cool”, but because I was volunteering for summer camps at a local nature center. Basically, I dressed up as a zombie to help out with a summer camp. The idea was to study ethnobotany (basically, the traditional uses of plants in medicine, arts and crafts, and food), wilderness survival, emergency response, disaster recovery, that sort of thing. Don’t worry, no one went too wild with it! But there was a pizza party at the end… just saying. 😛
But while I was there, I mentioned to some of the other volunteers (as we got flour put in our hair) that if we were actually a threat, then bug spray, of all things, would be among the campers’ best weapons.
“Don’t you mean zombie repellent?” another volunteer asked.
I said, “No, I mean bug spray.”
(Yes, for those who were wondering, they did manage to “cure” us. The cure was jewelweed pounded in water. Which also works for poison ivy, incidentally… But not diluted.
I was rather uncomfortable, actually, afterwards. I had hid and lain down on a nettle. Ouch. And the face paint was sticky and greasy and not very pleasant to wear.)
Fast forward several weeks. I posted about geek fandomery, and made a mention of the same thought, adding a note about iodine supplements as well. (I didn’t make that up myself. That one is from my volunteer supervisor, actually.) Several people expressed interest in the comments. So, this is my answer.
Zombies originated in the Voodoo religion of Haiti. Basically, they were the mindless servants (sometimes they are actually re-animated corpses; sometimes they are living people who, Voodoo practitioners believe, have had their souls stolen) of anyone who had the know-how to either reanimate zombie servants for themselves or turn living people into zombies. No one believes in the reanimated zombies any more, but it is true that living people were drugged to fake their deaths, then drugged again to keep their minds and intellects from resurfacing, so they could not just walk away from their slavery. (In the third book of the Ranger’s Apprentice series, SPOILER ALERT something similar occurs. END SPOILERS) However, even if the drugs were to stop, very few people, sadly, ever had a chance to return to their homes and families, due to brain damage and memory loss caused by the drugs–in extreme cases, the withdrawal of said drugs could lead to death. (Addicted to what kills you, this is more common than you would like to believe for your peace of mind.)
So much for reality. Now we go to the popular culture side of things. (Yes, I just called pop culture unrealistic. Live with it.)
In popular culture, zombies and the zombie apocalypse are a big thing. In popular culture, though, zombieism is not caused by some machinating Voodoo priest or priestess… We can’t have that! Goodness, no! It’s not politically correct! (Even Disney didn’t dare, they had to level out their precious dark sorcerer by putting in a benevolent one as well.) So, instead, zombieism in popular culture is more like a plague, or is caused by some other meddling with either the human genome or some so-called “miracle serum” or something. (See Norman Osborne. Yoikes.) However, whatever incarnation we’re talking about, normally zombies can transform normal people into zombies by biting them, scratching them, etc. So far so good. The plague doesn’t spread by air. Possibly you could catch it by drinking contaminated water or contact with bodily fluids, but think about it. If there are zombies (which can’t feel pain) out there, they’re going to get bitten by mosquitoes if they still have any circulatory fluids in them. They won’t be slapping the mosquitoes. And then those mosquitoes will become plague carriers, and you won’t just have to defend yourself from zombie bites, you’ll have to protect yourself from zombie mosquito bites, too! Whether the mosquitoes themselves become zombiefied or not, bug spray is still your best friend, since I doubt that a zombie mosquito has any less brains than a non-zombie mosquito. Instinct is still there, probably. Keep the mosquitoes off. Defend yourself from the plague.
(In real life, malaria spreads when mosquitoes bite, too, so in the case of a real pandemic of ANY sort, if there are mosquitoes around, stockpile bug spray and protect yourself. I don’t know if HIV/AIDS can spread from mosquito bites–research in this department seems woefully inadequate–but it could be possible, I suppose, provided the AIDS part didn’t strike the mosquitoes before they could bite another person.)
Now, about the iodine supplements.
If your hypothetical zombie apocalypse is not caused directly by human meddling, but instead becomes widespread due to a nuclear blast (and believe me, most nuclear blasts that have actually occurred, though powerful, have been limited to one area, unlike in fiction,) your best defense against zombieism is to probably keep yourself uncontaminated by radiation. In nature, iodine quickly absorbs a lot of radiation. The human body requires iodine to help regulate the function of the thyroid gland, if I am correct. (That’s why they add it to table salt, to prevent iodine deficiency.) Now, of course, iodine is toxic when consumed in large amounts (as are lots of other things!), but in small doses it’s necessary to keep you healthy. You can absorb natural iodine from the food you eat, but if you don’t need iodine, you won’t absorb it as quickly, protecting you from the radiation-toxic natural iodine. Thus, carefully stored iodine supplements become your best defense in a fallout zone. There are other strategies as well to protect you from stray radiation–look up the research, it’s fascinating–but I just thought I’d mention this one, just because. (All credit goes to my volunteer supervisor for this section. Well, I did the writing. Credit for the idea, that is.)
Hopefully this helps you in your disaster preparedness and such, and gave you some food for thought. (Zombies are unrealistic, really. Unless you happen to be a necromancer and a horrible person. If you are, please don’t comment unless you want a barrage of replies shouting you down in a sadly narrow-minded and politically incorrect manner.) Thanks for reading, and God bless you all! Indiscriminately. 😛