Zombie virus?

Contributed by Ning Chin

A must-do during Halloween is watching horror movies. I recently watched the Korean zombie movie “Train to Busan” and liked it a lot. In the movie, once you’re bitten by a zombie, you’re turned into a zombie in a few minutes—unless you’re one of the main characters. Within a few minutes of getting bitten by a zombie, your veins turn black and purple. Your iris and pupil turn white. And then you lost your humanity. After the movie, I had to think of reasons that zombie virus cannot be real so I can sleep at night.

The main reason that zombies are fearful is because it can spread very fast. In reality, the closest thing that can cause zombie-like symptoms are rabies. After getting bitten by a rabid animal, the person can show symptoms of rabies within one to three months. If zombie virus exists, the incubation period has to be way shorter. Shortest incubation time for virus to show symptom is from influenza with a minimum of 24 hours, which is still slower than the zombie virus. The whole movie is within the time of a one-hour train ride, so the max number of people infected with zombie virus is dependent on the amount of people the first zombie can bite in one-hour, which is probably max 60 people, if she can bite one person per minute. At this rate, it’s safe to assume that we can detect the situation in time to prevent further spread of the virus.

Since the whole movie in within the time range of a one-hour train ride, the movie didn’t show how long can the zombies “live” after being turned to zombie. When infected with rabies, once symptoms start showing, the patient only has a few days to live. If the zombie virus is similar, then implementing quarantine would be the best way to end this. As long as the zombies cannot infect more people, then the virus can die with the quarantined zombies. Though it’s also not clear in the movie what was the origin of the virus.

Regardless of what is the science behind zombie virus, human nature will never change. Do you choose to be selfish and protect yourself regardless of others’ safety? Or do you stick together and take risks to ensure that everybody live? Horror movies always reflect flaws in human nature. Monsters and ghosts are scary, but they’re imaginative. However, these are choices that people make in real life. There’s no right answer, but it leaves us something to think about.


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