The Telegraph, like all good mainstream news sources, is taking good science and sensationalizing it beyond any sense of propriety. The article, There are Zombies Among Us (complete with a photo of the walking dead), reviews several well-known behavior-altering parasites in nature then finally gets into the rotten meat of it and tells us how these parasites will create an unstoppable army of the risen dead!
Well, no it doesn’t. Because they won’t. Dammit. But it’s still pretty cool. Here’s a snippet:
Do any other microbes provoke similar changes? The leading candidate so far is one of the most common in the world – influenza. Researchers at Binghamton University in New York State, using the ’flu vaccine as a proxy for infection, recorded the behaviour of 36 academic staff two days before, and two days after, getting a jab.
The result was astonishing. Before the vaccination, according to the journal Annals of Epidemiology, they interacted with an average of 54 people a day; afterwards it shot up to 101. Yet the amount of time they actually spent with each person plummeted – from 33 to 2.5 minutes. “Subjects who normally had very limited or simple social lives,” said one researcher, “were suddenly deciding they needed to go out to bars or parties” – the perfect places for a virus to find new hosts.
So while we’ll probably still need mad scientists, aliens or toxic waste to get the really good zombies we can leave the really lame ones to the flu.