Researchers at Stanford University are making fundamental changes to the DNA of a deadly parasite in hopes of better understanding its behavior. Taking a close look at the study, ZRS contributor, Ashley Martin, is disturbed to find that it has all the hallmarks of a classic zombie outbreak story.
Toxoplasma Gondii is a microscopic parasite that causes Toxoplasmosis in humans and animals, which is the third leading cause of death from food borne illness in the United States. Though often not fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the parasite remains inactive in the host body, and waits for the ideal time to reactivate itself.
“Over 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the parasite without even knowing it.”
Toxoplasmosis drastically changes the behavior of rats and mice, making them drawn to the scent of cats, rather than fearful of it. Once the rodent is killed and eaten by a cat, the controlling parasite can then reproduce in its new host.
In humans, mild cases of infection can result in reckless behavior, including higher levels of aggression, jealousy and paranoia. It can also cause inflammation of the brain, neurologic diseases, and other highly targeted disorders.
Martin argues that genetically altering a deadly, mind-controlling parasite could be the first step towards the evolution of zombiism. With a legion of people across the planet already infected, the newly modified organism needs only to link up with millions of waiting victims.
Though the Stanford study may prove harmless, the threat of modern medical or scientific mistakes leading to new a new pandemic is very real. How do you think the next great zombie plague will start?