Several works of zombie art depict people becoming undead ghouls without needing to be bitten by a zombie, such at The Walking Dead and the films of George Romero.
Now ZRS contributor Raymond Campbell suggests that the zombie sickness might be spread through indirect transmission via a cloud of toxic moisture or gas that follows the undead horde. Get too close, breathe too much of their foul air, and you could be the next to get sick.
“Is it possible that there is a vapor surrounding a zombie that reacts to open wounds? If so, this would mean that it is not the bite which causes transmission, but simply having an exposed wound while near a zombie.”
In theory, this vapor would also be able to infect a person through their eyes and mouth.
Because it’s widely believed that the undead plague can be spread through bodily fluid contact like saliva or blood, it stands to reason that an infectious cloud of zombie rot could hover just above the body surface. The difference between a drop of blood and a cloud of zombie moisture is essentially the same as the difference between rain and a heavy mist. Either way, you get wet.
If Campbell’s hypothesis holds true, it’s just another reason to stop obsessing over which zombie weapon you’re going to use in close quarter combat, and start planning for how to stay as far away from the undead as possible.
The zombie stink might just be their most potent weapon.