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.

Happy times!


  1. Every fucking time I search for a picture for prion disease this fucking girl shows up and fucking scars my pants off… What the hell has prion to do with this zombie girl!!! WTF!!!

  2. CJD has evolved already correct? I mean according to my research an outbreak of Kuru occured in Papua New Guinea, Australia. In the 1950’s This disease spread throughout the eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea like wildfire. This spread so quickly because it is a custom of the tribe to eat the bodies of the dead. Now a tribesman had obtained CJD and died from the disease, the men of the tribe chose which part they wanted to eat leaving mainly organs behind for the women and children. A young women ate the brains of the dead man and some how the disease mutated within her body. It was in the late 50’s that the full extent of the disease was realized after it had reached large infection rates in the south Fore of the Okapa Subdistrict, at the time the agent was unknown. Later studies show that Kuru was in fact reported by W.T. Brown in Kainantu, Patrol Report No. 8 of 1953/54 (January 13-1953, Febuary 20-1954). Awande Hospital was built in 1961 in the Eastern Highlands to accommodate Kuru patients and research. Kuru was first noticed in 1952 by anthropologist R.M.Yate and Usanufa people(although the disease was believed to be only CJD).Blood specimans and brain tissue were sent to Melbourne. In 1957 Dr. D.C. Gajdusek of the National Institute of Health joined the Awande research center. In the mid-1960’s Australian doctor (now proffesor) Michael Alpers colected post-mortem brain tissue samples from an 11-year old Fore girl who had died of Kuru. he took the samples to Dr. Gajdusek in the US, who then injected two chimpanzees with the infected material. Within two years, one of the chimps had developed Kuru, demonstrating that the unknown disease factor was transmitted through infected biomaterial and that it was capable of crossing the species barrier to other primates. Its said that kuru is a highly transimissible disease, the only outbreaks were due to cannibalism. Today cases of Kuru pop up from time to time worldwide, so that only leads me to believe that this disease is almost constantly changing trying to spread itself faster. The disease affects the Cortex along with the Central Nervous System so leaving the brain stem intact is an ideal begging of the zombie apocalypse especially knowing it is constantly mutating.

  3. might as well go with a surgical mask if it’s sufficient…dont gas masks reduce your field of vision?

  4. Hey All!

    I read this paper and there are a few things to keep in mind. Let me preface it by saying I have performed autopsies on more CJD cases than I can count. In this study they chopped up bits of prion-infected brain and basically sprayed it on the study animals. Of course they are going to get it, it’s really no different than eating the neural tissue. This is not a new concept. There are a number of precautions that I have to take while doing CJD cases, in excess of what I use for a regular autopsy. This is because while I do the case, bio material can splatter. It is a particular problem while opening the skull with the saw, bits of bone and blood can spray on to my mask. This article does not suggest that the prion can be passed by a sneeze or a cough. Although CJD can be found in tonsil tissue and in the saliva of animals with a similar disease called ‘chronic wasting disease’, it cannot be passed by spit. The result of this paper really point out the dangers of being too close while firing a headshot to kill the prion-zombie. The flying brain matter could potentially infect you! So, if you’re going to kill a prion-zombie, wear a mask and a face shield. That being said, I do not believe there is a documented case of a pathologist contracting CJD, so you may be alright regardless…

  5. Ilana Gottfried-Lee

    I got a gas mask but i would still have to take it off to eat and drink.

    • Droplet precauations- as long as an infected in not sneezing in the room, stay 7-8 feet away from them, and you can take the mask off to eat.

  6. Surgical masks and goggles should be sufficent.

  7. So much for being compasionate to my fellow man! “Are you infected? BAM!” don’t even wait for an answer.

  8. The fact that it is also contracted through cannibalism in areas such as Papua New Guinea where they eat the dead just adds to the possibility of a possible outbreak.

  9. If this is true, we are screwed….But a gas mask Hmmm…..Were can you get a gass mask without going into a millitry Bace :s…..
    Be Safe,Be alert…move when possible..Have 1 meal a day. Go to the ContrieSide
    Long live metal..Long live Man Kind

    • I can get mine from work. Depending on what I’m painting with i have to wear one. Good thing I live in the only apartment above work. =D

    • Gas masks are available. Hardware stores and military surplus are sure to have them.

      • True! And it not being a gas, you wouldn’t “really” need a mask with that much filter, BUT I suppose I’d go for top of the line anyway!!

  10. I guess a gas mask will be added to my BOB. An interesting article suggestion would be how effective are gas masks in reality? could it help against all air born zombie plagues or just a few?

  11. Well, we’re screwed. Either it’s zombie diseases or humans making ourselves obsolete through the making of super intelligent and indestructible robots.
    Just wait. Next there will be the dreaded robo-zombies.

  12. lols there’s a simple solution to the airborne diseases!!

  13. Well it looks like I’m gonna have to invest in a couple surgical masks. Lol

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