Sep 17, 2017 I Brett Tingley

A Mystery Illness is Turning Pennsylvania Wildlife into Zombies

While everyone knows the idea of human zombies is pretty terrifying, you’ve gotta admit that animal zombies are a lot more frightening. Humans move in predictable ways, we’re slow, and relatively weak. Imagine, however, a zombie grizzly bear running you down in the woods, or a pack of zombie dogs hungrily circling your family as your children clutch your legs in fear, or even a flock of zombie birds dive bombing you from the skies to peck out your eyes - in order to get at your sweet, sweet brains, of course.

zombie bird
"Of course."

See what I mean? Undead animals roaming our streets is a lot more horrifying than awkward, uncoordinated human remains stumbling around, moaning and generally stinking up the joint. While zombies are (for now) only a figment of our popular culture, there are indeed some precedents in the natural world of zombie animals. A number of fungi and viruses can infect the brains of living animals and make them do their bidding, while some small insects can get into the heads of other bugs and control them from the inside out. So far, though, it’s mostly insects who are the victims of real-world zombification. Some mysterious news out of Pennsylvania, however, sounds as if the zombie world may be getting some new larger members.

This dog is actually alive, believe it or not.

The mystery began when residents of Ross Township in Pennsylvania began noticing wild animals acting strangely and stumbling out of the surrounding woods into their yards. Karene Meyer told Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA that the animals appear listless and unresponsive, much like zombies:

They seem to be sick, doesn’t seem to be rabies. The reason why they are saying they are sick is because they are not responding, moving or running away from them and they are listless. It’s like they are dying.

Dying, but not dying. Sound familiar? So far local police have responded to the outbreak by driving around shooting the animals and leaving their stinking, rotting corpses behind for a third-party company to pick up. Apparently, that company has fallen behind and now Ross Township is littered with the foul-smelling carcasses of these poor beasts. You want an animal zombie outbreak? Because that’s how you get an animal zombie outbreak.

Screen Shot 2017 09 14 at 2 08 56 PM e1505413962659
A rabies vaccine notice posted in the area. Public health service gone awry, or likely cover story?

As of now, law enforcement and animal control officials are assuring the public that the animals’ anomalous behavior is likely due to a reaction to an oral rabies vaccine that has been sprayed throughout the area. Sure, that sounds benign and all, but I’ve seen and read enough horror fiction to know that medical testing and vaccines are often the cause of zombie outbreaks. Not living dead zombies - feverhead zombies. You know, the fast kind. The worst kind.

Board up your windows, fill the bathtub with clean water, and aim for their tiny, furry heads.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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