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Volume 19, Number 5—May 2013

Another Dimension

Zombies—A Pop Culture Resource for Public Health Awareness

Melissa Nasiruddin, Monique Halabi, Alexander Dao, Kyle Chen, and Brandon BrownComments to Author 
Author affiliations: Author affiliation: University of California, Irvine, California, USA

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Table

A comparison of zombies folklore and rabies epidemiology

Characteristics Zombies Rabies
Susceptibility Human infection requires fictional apocalyptic environment Requires environment with infected animals, such as dogs or bats
Cause Tyrant virus, other viruses, unknown pathogens Mononegavirales
Virus transmission Bites and scratches; unknown pathogen; spread human to human; 100% effectiveness Bites; saliva infected with rabies virus; spread animal to human
Virulence Victims die and become “walking dead” Victims die and stay dead
Symptoms Fever, chills, loss of hair and pigmentation, hobbling gait Delirium, anxiety, stress, hallucinations, muscle spasms, convulsions
Control methods Avoiding bites from existing zombies; intervention includes destroying brain of zombies Avoiding bites from dogs and bats; postexposure prophylaxis
Exposure in popular culture
Nonscientific media Movies, books, television shows Movies, books, television shows
Scientific media Zombie web sites, CDC, Nature Academic journals, global health Web sites, NIH, CDC, Nature

*CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; NIH, National Institutes of Health.

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