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Doctor Kelthorn Research Notes: The Zombie Pathogen Summary 10 patients infected by the pathogen. I will observe the progression of the disease, study the subjects in detail, and obtain as much information as possible about the pathogen itself. This will not be a study of zombie behavior; we’ve all experienced that first hand. Moment of Infection Patients infected with the pathogen. Appears to spread by exposing any infected bodily fluid to a human’s circulatory system. Trials with Patient 1 showed that amputation is not sufficient to stop the infection, as expected. In a single heartbeat, the pathogen is already well beyond the area of infection and past stopping. Trying to amputate someone to save them will just end in them being dead much quicker. Progression of Infection The most incredible thing about the infection, really, is the extraordinary speed at which it propagates. This has led me to an initial supposition that it is viral or bacterial in nature, as I can’t imagine any other pathogen reproducing this rapidly while simultaneously accomplishing what this one does. It takes about 2 hours for the pathogen to fully circulate through the body. This time does seem to vary quite largely. I don’t have a large enough test group to be sure, but it appears to multiply more rapidly in more physically fit humans. This suggests that the body is utterly incapable of even slowing down the disease; instead, the pathogen is using the body’s own resources against it to reproduce even faster. This points to a viral infection. Symptoms and Treatment Symptoms are quite easy to see. A massive fever spikes almost instantly to levels nearly high enough to kill and stay there until the patient dies. Vasodilation is also instantaneous and noteworthy, as the heart rate skyrockets simultaneously. I believe this may be related to the reproduction of the pathogen- carrying it around the body more rapidly with dilated blood vessels and extreme heart rate. This would kill a person within a day or so normally, but the pathogen doesn’t have to worry about that. The fever, I believe, is not because the body is trying to fight off the infection, but because so much energy is being expended by the reproduction of the pathogen that it causes the heat. I’ve attempted to treat Patients 2 through 7 with a variety of drugs in an attempt to slow down or kill the infection. Patients 2 and 5 got various antibiotics, Patients 3 and 6 got a cocktail of anti-viral agents, and Patients 4 and 7 got simple anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Unsurprisingly, none of the treatments were able to kill the pathogen. The antibiotics and antiviral treatments were, as I fully expected, completely ineffective. However, as I suspected, the anti-inflammatory drugs were able to slow the infection rate. Patients 2, 5, 3, and 6 all died within 3 hours, with most of the results favoring about 2 hours. However, Patient 4 lasted 12 hours before giving in, and Patient 7 could have lasted much longer if I hadn’t stopped treating her. This seems to suggest that with copious amounts of anti-inflammatory drugs, a person could reasonably aim to delay the effects of the infection by as much as a week by my projections (not that it would do them any good in the end). Death Eventually, the high fever and rapid pulse cause the body to simply shut down. Once dead, it takes about 7 minutes for reanimation to take place. From my cellular analysis and tests, it appears that much of the two hours the patients spend alive but infected is used to rewrite the genetic code of the body. Once reanimated, the body functions incredibly different than that of a normal human, which could only truly be accomplished by the addition of extra RNA to cells. This almost certainly confirms my theory that it is, indeed, a virus. It appears that the pathogen makes use of the extra electrical gradient left within the human body after death. As the body begins to fully shut down, it kickstarts the brain with the leftover electrical energy. However, only a few small parts of the brain are restarted. The brain stem, for one, is returned to full function which allows the zombie to theoretically do anything a human can physically. The hypothalamus is not only restored to full function, but is completely overworked, causing the characteristic aggressive behavior. The hypothalamus also controls hunger, and even though it’s disconnected from anything that should be signaling hunger, it gives the overwhelming feel of hunger to the patient. The occipital lobe continues to function to register hearing and seeing, as well. No parts of the brain capable of logic, reasoning, or empathy is restored. This is so consistent that it appears something the virus does makes it physically impossible for these parts of the brain to function. As such, that tissue dies within minutes of the zombie being reanimated. This confirms my suspicions that no cure will ever be found for already zombified zombies. Restored Functions Contrary to popular belief, most of the zombie’s body continues to function and work in a “living” way. Here’s a quick reference of parts of the body that continue to function: *Some parts of the brain (as above) *Eyes and optic nerves *Ears and auditory nerves *All muscles *Salivary glands And parts that cease completely: *The rest of the brain *The circulatory system *The respiratory system *Most of the exterior nerves (more on this later) It appears that the pathogen rewrites the body to continue to function in two different ways; the parts of the body exposed to air (mostly skin tissue) begin to respirate much as plants do- they take oxygen from the air. On the inside of the body, cells use anaerobic respiration to reproduce without oxygen (unless they become exposed to air). Anaerobic respiration is highly inefficient and can’t be used to sustain complex life for long periods of time. However, the zombie is much less of a complex life form than its human counterpart. When not affected by stimuli, it spends large amounts of its time stationary. Since it neither breathes nor circulates blood, very little energy is actually being used. When the cells inside the body run out of energy, they begin digesting other cells around them for energy (with the exception of muscles, ligaments, and tendons, which are prioritized beyond everything else to be kept alive). This gives zombies the appearance of decomposition. It is not, however, the kind of decomposition that happens to corpses. It is actually that the cells are being digested and repurposed to give energy to the rest of the body. Due to the copious amounts of blood splatter that tend to happen when killing a zombie, my colleagues had once posited that blood continues to flow in the zombie. That is, however, untrue. With only a few minutes of death and then the restoration of oxygen and energy to blood, most of it doesn’t die. It just doesn’t circulate, either. It coagulates a small amount- only enough to make it a bit clingy and thick, it still remains a liquid. From there, it is largely used by the zombie to fuel muscles and other vital cells. Hence, the longer a zombie has been zombified, the less blood remains intact within it. Most of the nerves in the body, also, are used for energy. With the exception of those closely connected to or in the brain (such as the auditory and optic nerves), the nerves are broken down and die. Thus, zombies feel no pain and get no stimulus from any sense of “feeling.” Transmission Transmission of the pathogen occurs when any part of infected tissue (that remains alive) or fluid enters the body. This most often comes from either a bite or a scratch. Biting, obviously, imparts both blood and saliva into the victim. My comrades were, for a while, baffled by scratching infections. They thought at the time that somehow the pathogen collected under the fingernails and was transmitted that way; this is preposterous. Transmission through scratching happens because most zombies have stripped the skin off of the end of their fingers. Whether it be clawing doors, windows, barricades, or anything else in an attempt to get to their victims, they have no sense of self preservation or pain. This leads them to ripping large amounts of flesh from their hands, leaving bone and tissue exposed. The sharp edges of broken fingernails and jutting bone cut the victim, and the zombie’s blood is quickly sucked into the victim’s bloodstream. There are some less common ways of transmission as well. One occasional occurrence is blood splatter while killing a zombie. This is much less frequent than biting or scratching but can happen. There is much less blood splatter from hitting a zombie than there is from hitting a human due to the zombie blood being partially coagulated, but keep your mouth closed if you’re killing one. It’s also a bit thicker, so it tends not to get into superficial cuts in the skin like some diseases can. Still, caution should be taken to not let zombie blood get into open wounds or other orifices. Finally, it should be noted that ingesting zombie flesh does not infect the individual; it instantly kills them. Instead of digesting the pathogen, it is quickly transmitted across the body and causes such shock that the victim is killed in mere moments. This is not enough time for the pathogen to spread and do the necessary work in the body, and by the time it’s ready to there’s not enough electrical gradient remaining to revitalize the person. Un-reanimation Patients 8, 9, and 10 were used to see what effective methods there were of killing them. Patient 8 had parts of the body ripped off until only the head and spinal cord remained. It remained alive all the way until the end; zombies can live on without any part of their torso intact for a time. However, they quickly run out of food and the brain begins to digest itself, causing a fairly quick (2 days) death. Patient 9 was dealt massive trauma to the spinal cord. This was enough to “kill” it eventually. Most of the lower spine was damaged with no effect (other than paralyzing parts of the zombie), but once the brain stem was damaged it fell to the floor. Unable to move, the zombie remained “alive” and probably would continue to even if the entire brain stem was removed. However, it is completely incapable of taking any action. The only threat that remains is that if one were to trip over it or otherwise injure oneself upon it, you could still be infected by it. In Patient 10 I dissected the brain. Destroying the hypothalamus was an interesting experiment; without the hunger and aggressiveness, the zombie did nothing. Nothing at all. It stood in place and didn’t react to a single stimulus. A zombie like this is completely harmless. However, actually disconnecting the hypothalamus is something that could only be done in a laboratory like this one. After disconnecting the hypothalamus, I disconnected the occipital lobe, once again with very interesting results. The zombie fell to the floor, no longer receiving any stimulus- audio, visual, or other. With no impetus to act or ability to perceive, it just lay on the ground. It was still capable of moving- the brain stem was intact- but had no reason to. As such, if any of the facets of the brain are damaged or destroyed the zombie, while not technically dead, becomes a complete non-threat and for all intents and purposes is put down. Conclusion The pathogen behind the zombies is almost certainly some kind of virus. Because of it’s make-up, current test results, and my experiments I firmly believe that no cure, antivirus, or vaccine will ever be plausible. There is no way a zombified individual could ever be cured. Any kind of passive immunity appears to be impossible- from what we can tell, it affects 100% of the human population. One final sidebar is that the pathogen does not effect other animals. Something about the differences in brain makeup make the pathogen incompatible- it causes the same symptoms (fever, heart rate, death) but no reanimation. God help us all.