On viruses and zombie raccoons

I was on Inside Edition last week to talk about zombies. That’s a weird sentence to type. While the story was dramatic, television clips are notoriously difficult to discuss anything of real significance. I had two main messages I wanted to get across. One, that we can’t be sure what these animals are suffering from […]

The Epidemiology of Greyscale

[Obvious warning is obvious: potential spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire novels/Game of Thrones TV series below]. While no one will claim that George R.R. Martin’s epic series, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” is historically accurate, there are a number of historical parallels that can be drawn from the characters and plotline–particularly […]

The microbiology of zombies, part V: beware the bite?

Now that seemingly the flu outbreak storyline has been wrapped up on The Walking Dead (unsurprisingly, but disappointingly, with their ineffective treatments proving to be miracle cures), there’s still one more zombie microbiology topic I’d like to cover: what’s up with the bite, and is it the cause of death? I said previously: “We know the pathogen […]

The microbiology of zombies, part IV: hidden infections

(As previously, spoilers abound) So on this week’s Walking Dead soap opera, we find that Daryl/Michonne’s group is still out and about searching for medical supplies. Back at the prison, the food situation is dire (apparently all the food stores were in the cell block where the infection broke out), so Rick and Carol head […]

The microbiology of zombies, part III: “We’re all infected”

Warning: here be spoilers In many latter-day zombie movies, books, and TV shows, zombie-ism has a biological cause. In 28 Days Later, the infection is caused by the “Rage” virus, which escaped from a lab when animal rights activists break in and release a group of infected chimpanzees. Of course, one of the animals promptly […]

The microbiology of zombies, part II: ineffective treatments and how not to survive the apocalypse

(Spoilers. And things.) After the start of season 4 of the Walking Dead and the introduction of a new nemesis: a fast-spreading, deadly infectious disease that seems to be a strain of influenza, I was looking forward to the plot arc of this season. And then episode 3, “Isolation”, happened. From an infectious disease standpoint, […]

Interview with “Warm Bodies” author Isaac Marion

And now for something a bit different. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of zombies. So, I was intrigued when I started seeing press for Warm Bodies, a book by Isaac Marion about a zombie who is, well, not your typical zombie. Recently released as a feature film, I read the book a […]

Using zombies to teach science

With my colleague Greg Tinkler, I spent an afternoon last week at a local public library talking to kids about zombies: The Zombie Apocalypse is coming. Will you be ready? University of Iowa epidemiologist Dr. Tara Smith will talk about how a zombie virus might spread and how you can prepare. Get a list of […]