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Science & Technology

Study: rabies could mutate into 'zombie' virus

March 8, 2021 | Comment icon 17 comments



What if a virus really could turn someone into a zombie ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 sookie
The rabies virus has the potential to turn people into zombies like something out of 'The Walking Dead.'
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, we all know how impactful a virus can be when it spreads from animals to humans, but according to a new study from Italy, there is another virus that, if modified or mutated a certain way, could bring about a real-life zombie apocalypse scenario.

Rabies is already known to spread from animals to humans through bites or scratches and in many cases when someone is infected it can cause them to become hyperactive and aggressive.

This in itself is a bit like what happens when someone is infected in a movie, turns into a zombie, then becomes aggressive and bites someone else - passing the virus along.

But what if rabies was to mutate in such a way so that those who become infected behave much more aggressively and have a tendency to attack and bite other people ?
Such a scenario could be eerily reminiscent of a real-life zombie apocalypse.

The fear is that even if such a mutation doesn't occur naturally, genetic engineering could produce a version of rabies that might cause those infected to act in this way.

"It is now widely acknowledged that many viruses are characterized by naturally occurring high mutation rates, which induce constant changes as reliable means for escaping host defenses or facilitating their transmission to other susceptible hosts," the study authors wrote.

"Rabies virus makes no exception to this rule... a vast array (up to 100) of antigenic variants of this pathogen in a wide range of animal hosts and geographic locations."

"Even single amino acid mutations in the proteins of Rabies virus can considerably alter its biological characteristics, for example increasing its pathogenicity and viral spread in humans, thus making the mutated virus a tangible menace for the entire mankind."

Perhaps The Walking Dead and Resident Evil aren't quite as far-fetched as they seem...

Source: The Debrief | Comments (17)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by Tom1200 9 months ago
I had a quick scan of the paper (Rabies) but it didn't add anything to the clickbait title.  So it is possible, because it would be incorrect to call it impossible.  We could apply that logic to a thousand more-plausible scenarios that will most probably never happen either. But amidst the overall frivolity of the theory there is a rather ominous section: The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, in China ... led some eminent scientists to conclude that the SARS virus might have been produced under laboratory conditions. Would a mutated Rabies virus ... characterized by... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by Scholar4Truth 9 months ago
I knew there was a reason why the CDC has a Zombie Preparedness page  https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/zombie/index.htm
Comment icon #10 Posted by ercbreeze 9 months ago
I thought zombies are the dead that came to back to life?  People with rabies are still alive . . . 
Comment icon #11 Posted by CloudSix 9 months ago
Wasn't there a short documentary or something that showed scientists from Wuhan experimenting on bats, trying to recreate a virus? I'm sure I saw it somewhere, I think it was Italian. Does anyone remember this?
Comment icon #12 Posted by OpenMindedSceptic 9 months ago
Here we go, yet more government backed, fear based nonsense. This story will never become a reality unless dreamt up by the behavioural nudge teams and a sociopathic government.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Trihalo42 9 months ago
I always felt that something between candida and cordyceps would be the way to go, driving people into a murderous rage while seeking sugar.
Comment icon #14 Posted by CloudSix 9 months ago
God forbid something between those two fungi mutates and becomes our living nightmare. We would not stand a chance, mushrooms are already the silent rulers of our planet, all they have to do is speed up the process of conquering all humans!! 
Comment icon #15 Posted by Hyperionxvii 9 months ago
I think someone has watched too many zombie films. Talk about something that has been overdone. 
Comment icon #16 Posted by Hyperionxvii 9 months ago
Never can have too many hobgoblins and boogeymen. And can't let a good zombie apocalypse go to waste. 
Comment icon #17 Posted by Hyperionxvii 9 months ago
Talking about how ridiculous the media can be. Am I the only one who remembers back in the 90s how every local news channel  always had a scare monger story about the latest scariest drug 'sweeping the nation'. I remember one that turned people into crocodiles. No seriously. 


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