Zombie Apocalypse: Ground Zero

I’ve always wondered if a zombie apocalypse were to take place now, where would it hit first? It’s Monday Mayhem and this has been on my mind all weekend.

Discovery Special: It Could Happen
Discovery Special: It Could Happen

You know, I’ve thought about this question. It’s not one of those precious topics floating around lunchrooms across America. Like, how many Twitter followers does Lady Gaga have? Does Justin Bieber like chocolate chip ice cream? What will Katy Perry choose as her next hair color? Or some other mind-numbing question like that. No, since I began my study into zombie propagation methods, I’ve pondered on possible contagion locations.

According to zombie folklore, zombies become zombies when a virus infects and kills a victim. The victim rises from the dead as a zombie and carries on the cycle of infection by biting other victims. That is, if there’s anything left of the victims after the zombie attacks. Zombies are known to have a voracious appetite for human flesh and will do anything to consume as much of it as possible.

Which begs the question I asked earlier: Where in the world would a zombie apocalypse have a greater chance of beginning?

Let’s use some logic and think about this for a moment. It would be fair to assume a typical zombie virus falls under the category of designer viruses engineered to deliver its payload to as many victims as possible. Obviously, no one in their right mind would volunteer to release such a virus into the population, therefore, should it happen, it would happen by accident.

Contagion's a Game
Contagion’s a Game

Okay, how about location? For a virus of this magnitude to cause such devastation, the lab would have to be located near a huge population. Like a city. I did a quick search on Google for labs located near large populations and found one just outside a metropolis in a quaint suburb. Located across the street is a hotel.

Forgive me if I’m naïve, because sometimes I don’t get things right away. But if this lab should ever have a breach, isn’t it reasonable to say the hotel across the street would fall victim to the contagion first? Don’t hotels contain travelers? Travelers need airports. Aren’t airports in cities? If a whole city gets infected by these busy travelers, wouldn’t the likelihood of the contagion spreading to surrounding communities increase? And let’s not forget the infected flying out of the city. Where are they heading? Europe? Africa? China?

Now, let’s say, for the sake of argument, I’m wrong. Let’s pretend a zombie apocalypse starts in a rural community first. What are the chances of it stretching its legs beyond the borders of a small town? Do you think the military would allow it? I don’t know. Seems unlikely. The military’s response is quick when it comes to these types of situations. They’d have the location secured once they see zombies running around town trying to make meals of its residents. They’d then execute a containment protocol to prevent the spread from affecting outlining regions.

No, a zombie apocalypse wouldn’t survive in those conditions. The military would make sure of that. If it does happen, it’ll happen in a large urban area. As for my research, I’m not silly enough to reveal what I found online, although if you’re smart, you probably already figured out my Google search. You also know to which lab I’m referring.

What do you think? Big city or small town? Do you have any other locations where a zombie apocalypse could start?

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25 thoughts on “Zombie Apocalypse: Ground Zero

  1. I think the government may drop the virus in a small town and it would start developing from there. The weaker would ones would be killed off and die. The strong ones would soon make it to the metropolitian areas to spread it and start infecting everyone else where the disease will spread.

  2. This is all an all to interesting topic for me. I love it , a zombie outbreak would be the most horror strickning thing to ever happen!To me ,to you , I think . . personally I would have to agree with the guy up there about it occuring in test labs. That would be it , I think . Numeral uno first things first. Most likely in large areas like NY or LA. Something to that affect ,either way that would be scary. None of us really know how it would turn out. Could it be like the old movies pictured it. Slow moving , flesh eating monsters. Or could it be like the newer ones . Fast killing monsters. Some seem to belive that they wouldnt be smart enough to follow you up a case a of stairs. Everyone has their own idea of what a outbreak would be like. I dont know about you , I think I wouldnt wanna wait to find out . God forbid something like this ever did happen!

  3. Interesting question… Where would Patient Zero do the most harm?
    I think it entirely is up to incubation time, way the virus spreads.
    So some interesting scenarios would be:
    – Plane flight with a stop at one of the major international hubs like JFK, Brussels, Mumbai, Shanghai.
    – The ISS (International Space Station)… Before anyone realizes what those frozen bodies cary inside them… You know the drill…
    – An atomic submarine
    – The Australian Outback
    – Disneyland
    OK, enough brain-storming.

  4. This is just creepy. I agree, though, that a large urban area would be the best “breeding ground” for such a contagion to spread. One reason I considered while reading this was that in an urban area, the “appetite” of the zombie could be satisfied by nibbling here and there instead of concentrating on one person, leaving a more or less intact victim to zombify. They’d have to leave the city relatively soon, mayhap, but it would spread.

    Here’s to the minds that look for creepy end game scenarios…

  5. For maximum destruction if the virus was used as a biologic weapon, my choice for it to be unleashed would be at Disneyland (or World, I always get them mixed up). You have a lot of people in a confined space for a short period of time. Depending on the incubation period, they could be on a plane to anywhere in the world before showing symptoms. Impossible to contain the spread.
    If it were a naturally occurring phenomenon, look to Africa and how many previously unknown diseases creep out of the rainforest and take out villages (Ebola, Marburg, etc.), Luckily they all burn out quickly, I think due to geographic isolation and limited infrastructure for traveling, but if the incubation period was long enough, and the right person contracted it, it would be everywhere before anyone knew enough to try to stop it.

  6. i would have to go with what the “pre-cursor” would be. If it was a breach at a lab, then i’m thinking a suburban area. There is a lab in Manhattan, KS that sits amongst a hospital, high school, farms, and a water table. The lab houses animals that they test different variations of mad cow disease, bird flu, swine flu, etc. They have documented that they have a mutated mad cow virus. They house the cows and pigs outside, where birds and other creatures are able to feed and frolic amongst the lab animals. potential contagion.
    Another scenario would be looking at 3rd world or simular countries that are trying to find ways to get ahead in the arms race. North Korea for example, is trying like crazy to develop a way to reach the United States with weaponry. I can easily see them developing a germ warfare type of weapon and having it leak.
    This post reminds me of reading “The Hot Zone” which spoke of the Ebola Zaire virus. The story on how that virus was easily spread was frightening. I mean, that book scared the crap out of Stephen King!! TSA is having a hard enough time keeping terrorists off planes, keeping virus carriers away would be near impossible.
    imagine this other scenario. A militant extremist group uses themselves as virus carriers to infect another country. They could easily cross a border with a mutant virus inside their bodies. They’re willing to blow themselves up for their cause. How perfect would that be?
    great…i just scared the crap out of myself with all of this…

  7. I believe that this will start as what appears to be a typical but doubly troublesome widespread outbreak of seasonal flu, and therefore a heavily populated area will be the ground zero area. However, there could be numerous outbreaks that occur nearly simultaneously. I suspect that discerning the actual ground zero location will be impossible and not ever be truthfully known. This will be a point of contention among scientist studying the zombie apocalypse in some distant and repopulated future.

    I subscribe to idea that after the “bad seasonal flu” phase is underway it will be discovered that this seasonal flu is more than any other flu and is actually a influenza/rabies hybrid virus. This virus will be jacked-up like rabies on steroids with the contact and aerosol transmission methods of the most catchy of the influenza strains.

  8. If the disease that causes people to become zombies spreads fast enough, it can happen anywhere and destroy the world very quickly. Look at the movie, “28 Days Later.” The virus, called “Rage,” turns people into monsters within seconds; and they become very fast and extremely strong (the human body is capable of tremendous feats of strength when the pain factor is taken away and one no longer cares about the damage done to one’s body).

    Add to this the ability of the disease to be transmitted through air, water, and bodily fluids…grab your guns and start running; and save the last bullet for yourself.

    • Zombie earworms? That could be dangerous. Or a retrovirus that remained latent until it was activated by certain tones or words strung together in a predefined code. This would be possible if there were sleeper agents programmed with Monarch Programming to create a certain emotional/chemical response upon hearing the specific triggers. The chemical reaction could trigger the virus from its dormancy and into full production.
      In this way, you can infiltrate an area with sleeper agents that have no idea they are infected, and the song or message triggers the original infestation. But then this requires an evil corporation or conspiracy with means to be at the heart of this epidemic.

  9. Oh heavens!! All this zombie talk is weirding (is that even a word) out. I think you can contain it if it breaks out in a rural area. Now if its in a city like New York, you might as well kiss your butt goodbye. Honestly I don’t even worry about zombies. I do worry about the man-made viruses that are contained at the CDC. Now if those suckers got out, we might have to kiss our ass goodbye.

    • Not to worry you further but who says that one of those man-made viruses that the CDC have wouldn’t turn humans into something consistent with much of zombie lore? I’m not talking about the dead walking as such but a virus that turns the living into something that is pretty much indistinguishable from it – something along the lines of the Rage virus from 28 Days Later. Let’s just hope we never get to find out!

      Happy thoughts for a Monday!

  10. I think your general assessment is pretty spot given your scenario, but there’s a few other things that you might like to throw into the mix to see if it changes your conclusions.

    Firstly, city authorities are always on watch for epidemics (especially if they have labs working with nasty things in them!). This means a zombie outbreak in a city is likely to get noticed almost immediately and the authorities can react at an earlier stage and contain it before it really gets going. In contrast, it might take quite a large number of victims before anyone in a rural area puts two and two together and by then it might be impossible to contain. This is quite a common feature of diseases in the modern world.

    Secondly, I think you over-estimate the ability of the authorities to close down an entire rural town at short notice. Typically, armed forces rely on the fact that people are scared of them and so will not try to take them on because of the risk of being shot. This allows a small number of armed soldiers to control a much larger unarmed population. However, in the case of a zombie outbeak, people are likely to be more scared of the zombies than the soldiers (I mean if you have to choose between definitely getting eaten alive by a horde of undead or possibly getting shot in the head and dying instantly, you’d probably be quite happy to take the second option!) and even a few hundred determined people are likely to be able to over-run any hastily-errected road blocks.

    Thirdly, the speed of spread will be determined by the latency period (that is the time between when someone gets infected when they start showing symptoms – or in the case of a zombie disease turn into one of the walking dead). The longer the latency period, the greater the chance of a disease spreading beyond any containment. This will apply to both cities and rural environments. This means that a zombie virus with a long latency period (a few hours or days) in a rural area has a much greater chance of becoming an epidemic than one with a short latency period in a city (after who in their right mind is going to let a zombie onto an aeroplane!).

    Do these change your conclusions? Possibly. Or possibly not. But either way don’t think you’re safe from the zombie apocalypse just because you don’t live in a big city!

    Anyway, nice article. Really gets the brain working on a monday – even if I really should be doing some real work instead of thinking about the epidemiology of a zombie apocalypse!

    • Colin, thanks for this. You’ve made an excellent third point. I thought about the latency period, but didn’t really pursue it further, considering I wrote the post with the point-of-view that the majority of victims died in the initial attack. What I did take into account was the incubation period from the time of the initial attack to the reanimation of the corpse. But maybe your point is valid enough for me to explore the consequences in a separate post to compliment this one…

      …and for a Monday, that is way too much brain power expended on a subject that may not even matter, given a meteor can scream down to earth any minute now to bring us all sweet relief!

  11. I understand your reasoning, and it makes sense, but I have another proposition to add chaos to your theory. What if the outbreak started in an area of the world where the cultural animosity is so great that the police do not have any power in that area anymore? Any contagion would quickly cause panic and riots as the population fled. The violence and outbreak would quickly spread uncontrollably. Throw in some gang conflicts and you’ve got a wild zombie house party on the block.

    • I like that idea- so if the virus popped up in one of the gang areas of a city- where armed troops heading in just leads to more violence and destruction as oppose to containment – I could see that working in terms of popagation –

      what could work even better if it broke out in an area and the govt thought to let it gorw a little- make them look like real heroes wjen they finally came in. Then it spread beyond the boundaries- I have a feeling like I am stealing that from some late night movie I half watched. But then it original spread would be uncontrolled because the powers that be would be in on the plan.. Until the inevitable containment breach…

  12. Large metropolitan cities where research facilities are available would be the most likely choices. Shanghai, Tokyo, LA, New York, London; places like that would be ideal. For the virus type to work, it’s going to need to be spread easily and function in a parasitic way. For my Blovel “Jessica Redux”, I actually use two viruses. One functions to active the muscle cells and the other functions to activate nerve cells. The viruses need the muscle and nerve cells to reproduce, but do so without killing the host. They feed the host cells Glucose derivatives and ATP that is generated through decomposition of the rest of the body.

    It wouldn’t even have to be a malicious intent to get things going like a security breach. In the case of “Jessica Redux” the viruses are administered in an attempt to keep Jessica alive a little longer after a car accident, but the results are disastrous. As they say, the “The road to Hell is paved in good intentions.”

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