As we’ve previously reported, a prion is an infectious agent implicated in a number of deadly diseases in mammals, like mad cow disease. All known prion diseases affect the structure of the brain, and all are untreatable and fatal. And a disturbing strain of mad cow in humans, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), can cause those infected to go violently insane.
Now a recent study published in the journal PLoS Pathogens showed that not only can deadly prions be transmitted through blood, saliva, feces and urine, but also through aerosols in mice. This means that prion diseases have the potential to spread over vast distances like other airborne contagions.
The premise of the film Zombieland involves an incurable strain of mad cow disease that makes those infected go violently insane and attack and eat other people. But imagine if that same sickness were airborne. We’d all be toast without suffering a single bite.