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WHAT LEPROSY TELLS US ABOUT ZOMBIES

We’ve already touched on the likelihood that a new class of citizen will be created if zombiism has a long incubation period (see: Rights of the Infected).  The closest model that currently exists for this potential reality is the forced segregation of people with leprosy before that disease was fully understood.  And no book better illustrates the leper’s plight than John Tayman’s bestselling work, The Colony.

The Colony chronicles a dark chapter in Hawaiian history, when thousands of lepers were forced to live on a remote island, separated from their families, and doomed to live out their last days in deplorable conditions.  Their sickness was ruled an illegal act, their rights were stripped, and they were considered living corpses.

“The patients were judged to be civilly dead, their spouses granted summary divorces, and their wills executed as if they were already in the grave.”

No matter how they were legally defined, the lepers were still alive when they were shipped away from the world.  In fact, many lived years, even decades in isolation, making them the first true example of the walking dead.

Tayman’s exhaustive research helped him to create a full picture of what life was like in the colony of exiles.  And because of this, it takes little imagination to see that the governmental and public response to the dreaded leprosy of old may be shockingly similar to that of the coming zombie pandemic.

2 comments

  1. Given our history in this country, the Infected in this country would be rounded up and placed in concentration camps like we did to the Japanese during WW2. This really isn’t the important question. The important question is, “Is this the right thing to do?”.

    The answer to this lies(lays, my grammar sucks) in how the Infected become infected. Is it by body fluid where a simple cough may infect another person like a cold, or is it just blood-borne.

    At first, I believe it is the right thing to do. Atleast until the point comes where we understand the virus/bacteria/etc that causes people to get infected.

    Should they wearing identifying armbands/clothing or special id cards?

    Will they die of the infection or do they have to die of other causes first?

    Should they always stay apart from the uninfected?

    What use can they be?

    There are other questions to be answered to I can’t ask them all.

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    1. At the very least, I think the Infected should have special ID cards letting ERs/etc know they are infected. Making them wear armbands denoting Infected seems a bit naziish, but it does make a certain amount of sense in this case. This isn’t to say that those wearing the armbands should be treated any different from noninfected, just that in the case of an emergency, people would know. Slippery slope this one is.

    2. Won’t know this until we know it.

    3. Depending on the answer to number 2, yes or no. If the infection could kill them at any moment, then yes. If the infection just lays dormant until the person actually dies of other means, then no.

    4. As to what use, depends on the state of the world. The more militant among them could join a special department that did stuff relating to zombies that it wouldn’t matter if they got infected or not. Beserkers for fighting and scientists for studying, that sort of thing.

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