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Friday, February 25, 2011

Zombie Parasite

Hello fellow survivors,

Warning: if you are scared of bugs, or have a phobia of parasites or germs, or if you are just squeamish in general, or often feel like something is happening to you if you read about it, this may be a hard read.

I was recently studying parasites, the reason for this is actually quite simple, I am always looking for possibilities of how or why zombies exist. I leave it to others to argue the "if" they exist. We already know the answer to that.

I had heard about ants who actually attack and eat other ants because they are being controlled by parasites. So I began reading more into it and while I didn't find this specific parasitic relationship I did find a lot of scary information.

For instance, parasites cause many ants to make choices which lead to their deaths. This is only one of many examples in which the parasite does not kill the host directly but instead influences the host to make decisions which directly cause it to die. Such as a parasite which makes grasshoppers drown themselves or a parasite which not only grows in caterpillars but after the parasites grow too big and burst out of the caterpillar's body the caterpillar will spend it's dying days protecting the parasites as they continue to grow.

So parasites can do this to bugs, what can they do to humans? Parasites could potentially already be effecting human decisions. More on this later.

So take a step back and look at what a parasite is. A parasite is anything that lives off of a host causing harm to the host. Not all parasites kill the host and some even benefits the host more then they do harm but that is what a parasite is. So parasites can be a large number of things but most parasites are very small bugs. Some are even microscopic, viruses are in fact parasites, they insert their DNA into the host's DNA and change or kill it in that way. So some of the traits that apply to parasites could apply to a virus that evolves past it's simply destructive and reproductive nature into something that could actually effect the brain of it's host like many other parasites do. Here is a theory on multihost evolution of a parasite. It is just a theory but it's based on evolutionary facts and mathematics. The jist of the theory in case you don't want to read the math/jargon filled 15 pages is that a parasite evolves in a host, say a bug, until it reaches it's full potential in that host. Then it finds a way to transfer into a more complex host, say a rat. It further evolves until it can fully control the rat and can evolve no further so it transfers to another type of host. And so on and so on. In this way the parasite grows as a species and is the popular theory on how parasites get to the point where they can actually affect human moods and actions.

The real T-Virus - Toxoplasma gondii
Toxoplasma Gondii is one such parasite. The main host creature is a cat, domestic or wild. Cats show no particular symptoms so it is impossible to tell if a cat has been infected. Even your household cat could be infected and is constantly at risk of being infected. A cat picks up the parasite by eating an infected mouse. The parasite starts in cysts, these cysts grow inside the mouse; the parasite makes a mouse fearless and actually attracted to the smell of cat urine, therefore seeking out the urine, with the cat probably nearby. The now fearless, but not immortal mouse is killed and eaten by the cat and thus the parasite transfers to the next level of host. Now the T-virus has has not evolved (as far as science knows) to the point where it can control the cat and needs to move to another host but it can effect humans and is often transferred by accident. The parasite actually sexually reproduce inside the cat’s stomach than can be passed to other creatures through its waste. And thus can easily get into humans who contact Kitty Liter. Now this is the big part. Infected people show changes in personalities after being infected, males which were infected showed signs of aggression, jealously and suspicion, while interestingly, women seem to be more calm, relaxed and also have a raised IQ. Not to mention that Oxford Scientists believe roughly half of the human population is currently infected. The parasite does not seem to have much effect on the cats besides using them as a breeding ground but it can fully control rats and cause changes in humans. And the human and rat brains are very similar, thus why tests are done on rats. The issue is that toxoplasma gondii attacks the cells protecting neurons in the human brain and the failure of these cells is a known cause of schizophrenia. So it is not that much of a stretch to think the parasite could evolve to cause other changes in the human body and possibly cause even more severe actions, like potentially attacking other people. Especially considering the point of parasites is to evolve to spread and reproduce. Considering the T-virus is already effecting humans it would not be a stretch for it to continue to evolve in such a way. This is not the only parasite or disease to cause violence in humans: besides parasites, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Kratos disease and rabies can all cause a human to go mad and violently attack other humans with no seeming cause. Many crimes and violent acts may well have been committed by an otherwise normal person under the influence of toxoplasma gondii or another parasite or disease.

And maybe these diseases, viruses and parasites may take hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years to evolve that far. But maybe they already have? The small isolated outbreaks could in fact be specific instances of the parasite learning to control the human and spread itself through bites and infection. And it is only a matter of time until the entire species evolves this far.

Also consider how many bioweapons are created every year. Stories of viruses that could wipe out entire continents in mere days. What is to say these weapons scientists are not already pushing parasites toward this sort of behavior. It is already well known that many bioweapons have been created by making parasites, viruses and bacteria even more deadly. Combine the idea of figuring out how to make the parasite control the brain and spread it's infection with the ability to revive the dead. Sounds like a perfect sleeper, or "lost" madman to unleash on an enemies country or corporation, with no connection to the people who released this parasite spreading zombie.

It is only a matter of time before a parasite gets to the point at which it's human host can be completely controlled, perhaps by killing the host and controlling the brain through impulses, and the infection needs to reproduce and pass to new hosts, the easiest way to pass would be through direct contact, openings in both bodies, like mouths and wounds, like a bite. This is of course if the parasite has not already gone this far and the human race is still playing catch up.

Stay ever vigilant, may the infection never reach you, and those close to you have the resolve to do what is needed should you be so unfortunate,
Mike D.

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