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Thread: Zombie diseases - Help needed!

  1. #1 Zombie diseases - Help needed! 
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    Hello everybody! I'm new here and need your help.
    First of all, I'm from Austria and must apologize for my bad English. I hope you still understand what I need ;)

    For my "Matura" (general qualification for university entrance) in Biology, I have to write a paper (~20 pages) about Zombies. As you can imagine, this shouldn't be some fictional essay, but a scientific paper, in which I want to elaborate the biological aspects. But, I don't want to make a simple list of diseases, parasites, or whatsoever that can make a living being act zombie-like, but concentrate on only a few (the nastiest). Also I want to bring in a little of the topic "life after death", not in a religious or philosophical way, but rather, again, the biological aspects (like hair continues growing for a couple of hours, and so on) and maybe factors, that have an influence on it.
    What I have found so far, are "Leucochloridium paradoxum" a parasite infesting snails, "Ophiocordyceps unilateralis" a fungal disease of ants, "Toxoplasma Gondii" a parasite infesting all mammals, and "Rabies" a virus, also infesting all mammals. (I think there are a lot more out there, so if you have heard of any, let me know) T. Gondii and Rabies are my favorites so far, because humans can get them.
    The main problem is that I just can't find good papers on the internet. All there is, are 2 or 3 paragraph long descriptions of the diseases, but I want to exactly know how they work and what they do. (I think) they all have in common that they affect the brain, which for me is not enough. I would like to know how exactly they do that and which areas,...

    So, can anyone give me suggestions where I can get further information on "Zombie-diseases"?
    Also, for this is my first paper (with relevance on an official exam), I'd really appreciate any other impulse (structure, chapters, content, ...).


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  3. #2  
    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    An interesting one is the Emerald jewel wasp (Ampulex compressa) or Emerald cockroach wasp. Apparently is turns cockroaches into "zombies".


    Ram Gal and Frederic Libersat (2008)
    A Parasitoid Wasp Manipulates the Drive for Walking of Its Cockroach Prey
    Current Biology
    Volume 18, Issue 12, 877-882, 24 June 2008




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  4. #3  
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    @Zwirko
    Thanks! I already knew that cockroach enslaving wasp. Great link, though. Exactly the kind I was looking for. Maybe I'll find more on that page.
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    You might know about this one too; I'll mention it anyway just in case.

    Another interesting and slightly gruesome one: Wipfelkrankheit or tree-top disease. Interesting because the culprit is a virus. Here, a baculovirus modifies the behaviour of caterpillars of the gypsy moth Mamestra brassicae. Infection causes the larvae to climb to the top of the plants they feed on and move out to the edge of leaves. Once in position the larvae liquify and rain virus particles down all over the plant and on to unsuspecting catepillars below.


    Dave Goulson (1997)
    Wipfelkrankheit : modification of host behaviour during baculoviral infection
    Oecologia (1997) 109: 219–228

    Ed Yong @Not Exactly Rocket Science
    Liquefying virus uses one gene to make caterpillars climb to their doom
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  6. #5  
    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    btw I don't think hair continues to grow after death - that wouldn't make any kind of sense from a metabolic standpoint. It's more than likely a urban legend/old wives tale/myth.
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    Actually, I have not heard of the Wipfelkrankheit yet. Thank you for the links once again.
    When you read things like this, you start to realize how wicked nature can be. - I love that.

    Well, my Biology teacher told us she heard a lecture about "life after death" and that there are cells and organs which live and work up to two days after death - I think muscle cells live the longest, because they store enough glycogen to survive without supplies. This also explains the "dancing frog legs" videos on youtube. Also, if you are in Japan and want to try fresh squid-tentacles, you have to be careful, because they still adhere to your gum so you might choke. (although I have no idea how an octopus' nervous system works)

    I am still very grateful for any further help! And, whoever is interested, can have the completed paper after I got an A+ on my exam :P
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    Check out zombie ants infected by a zombie fungus that makes them zombified until they die, and then the fungus erupts from their head, ready to infect the next ant.

    New Zombie-Ant Fungi Found | Parasites & Mind Control | LiveScience
    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
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    @pyoko
    Yeah I already got this one - its "Ophiocordyceps unilateralis"
    . Unfortunately I can't find any further information on it. Still - thanks!
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  10. #9  
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    The amazing and complex D. dendriticum turns ants into nighttime suicidal zombies.

    source
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
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    Check references in http://www.landesbioscience.com/jour...vansCIB4-5.pdf for zombie ant fungus:

    Harry C. Evans,
    Simon L. Elliot
    and David P. Hughes
    Department of Entomology; Universidade Federal de Višosa (UFV); Višosa; Minas Gerais, Brazil;
    Department of Entomology and Department of Biology;
    Penn State University; University Park; PA USA

    Addendum to: Evans HC, Elliot SL, Hughes DP.
    Hidden diversity behind the zombie-ant fungus
    Ophiocordyceps unilateralis: four new species
    described from carpenter ants in Minas Gerais,
    Brazil. PLoS One 2011; 6:17024, PMID: 21399679;
    DOI: 0.1371/journal.pone
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    Ed Yong seems to like the zombie stuff. He's got another post up today: Mind-controlling virus forces parasitic wasp to put all its eggs in one basket


    (Reference at the bottom of post).
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    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
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    What about in terms of Ecology? Symbios, predation-relationship? Food chain?
    And also Carbon cycle and Nitrogen cycle? Population of human? Functional niche of a zombie and also the virus?
    I think it is a new direction to you instead of parasites and virus.
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    Hair and fingernails aren't actually growing. Dead is dead. The only things growing after you're dead are worms, bacteria, and flowers. What ishappening, however, is that the skin around the hair and fingernails will desiccate (i.e., lose water) and thereby shrink. When the skin shrinks, it retracts, making hair and fingernails look longer, as if they'd grown.
    - Osborne
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    And rabies is a disease where the patient, during later stages develops severe hydrophobia. As a result of which he is not able to drink water. In chronic stages the tendency to bite others have also been reported. There is a myth about the animal that bites, here's how it goes.... people from the early ages have been believing that the animal(rabies infected) that bites, say, a dog dies after it has bitten something like human or another mammal, and the victim too dies. But the truth is that the dog is going to die, it has bitten or not bitten anybody doesn't matter. And the patient seems to be behaving like a dog when he sees water (specially flowing water).
    - Osborne
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    Quote Originally Posted by Osborne View Post
    Hair and fingernails aren't actually growing. Dead is dead. The only things growing after you're dead are worms, bacteria, and flowers. What ishappening, however, is that the skin around the hair and fingernails will desiccate (i.e., lose water) and thereby shrink. When the skin shrinks, it retracts, making hair and fingernails look longer, as if they'd grown.
    - Osborne
    Explanation sounds logical, but it isn't true. Hair and finger nails keep growing after death. Because your body does not simply die, if you lose conciousness. Actually you keep biologically active about 5 hours after death. After this, you may begin to rot, but some of your cells will still be alive, feeding off other cells. Cells that make your fingernails grow will still produce fingernail, because dead, horned tissue will be plentyfull. Though it will still be so little growth, you can barely see it.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  18. #17  
    Forum Bachelors Degree dmwyant's Avatar
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    Have you checked out the American CDC (center for disease control) websites or the WHO(world health organization)? They have lots of information available regarding transmission vectors and statistics on various diseases. I know the CDC actually has a section on zombies.
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  19. #18  
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    Yes, probably about vampires, golems, orcs, faeries and unicorns as well.
    Dkav likes this.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  20. #19  
    Forum Bachelors Degree dmwyant's Avatar
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    I laughed really hard when I found out about it but they do give some good advice in regards to avoiding disease
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