A 'Zombification' Parasite May Already Be Infecting Humans

A single-celled parasite called toxoplasma infects roughly 40 million Americans a year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some scientists believe this parasite could lead to a "zombie" apocalypse.

Evolutionary biologist Athena Aktipis from Arizona State University explains “If you actually look at the proportion of species overall that are parasitic in one way or another … more than half of the species that we know on Earth are parasites." But she says that toxoplasma "[The parasite] somehow evolved to make a rat get turned on by the smell of cat urine, so it goes up to a cat and snuggles with it, and then it gets eaten which completes the life cycle of the toxoplasma – if that’s not zombification then what is?”

Studies have also found that brain infection from the toxoplasma parasite could lead to adverse behaviors in humans - namely aggression, and increased risk-taking.

It's alarming to note that you can get infected with the toxoplasma parasite from your cat (including cleaning their little box) or by eating undercooked meat.

Scientists admit that while toxoplasma could have frightening and adverse implications, it would take a huge evolutionary leap for the parasite to affect humans in the same way it does rats.

What about animals with Zombie symptoms...

Zombie-like behavior and physical traits have manifested in wild animals like deer, raccoons, and snakes. These reports are related to highly infectious diseases, like chronic wasting disease (CWD), and distemper. Symptoms can take months to develop, and can include severe weight loss, lack of coordination, listlessness, drooling, excessive thirst or urination, drooping ears, glowing eyes, lack of fear of people and aggression. 

In 2015 a dog zombie dog was reported in Washington state and a zombie cat in Florida. In both cases the pet owners thought the animals were dead so they buried the animals in their yards, only to find that they were actually still alive, and the animals clawed their way out of their graves.

Photos: Getty Images

Zombie Snakes Found In North Carolina - Thumbnail Image

Zombie Snakes Found In North Carolina

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