...catch swine flu or become a zombie?
I am not sure of the answer, but a bunch of mathematicians at University of Ottawa (those wacky Canucks!) used mathematical models to calculate the effects of plausible pandemics by using an infestation of zombies as the disease vector. This paper has been published.
For disease models, the researchers picked the typical slow-movie zombies from movies such as Night of the Living Dead which infect humans with a bite and can only be killed by a blow to the head. The population was broken down into live humans, zombies and dead zombies. In their model, there was no cure other than complete eradication, and that had to happen right from the start with coordination of efforts. "A zombie outbreak is likely to lead to the collapse of civilisation, unless it is dealt with quickly," they write in the paper. "Modelling zombies would be the same as modelling swine flu, with some differences for sure, but it is much more interesting to read."
For some odd reason, this talk of the end of civilization reminds of a long thread on the Bujold listserv, from at least 10 years ago. Someone postulated that if all of the members of the listserv were magically transported to an uninhabited planet with no Earth food, water, medical equipment or tools, we would all eventually die. The planet did potentially have edible items and potable water but how would we tell? In this exercise, an evil (or mischievous) alien named Yeltar was the reason behind our removal from Earth. After much discussion, it was pretty well agreed upon that, given the above scenario, the colony on Bujoldia was doomed. If the planet came with a user's manual and was eminently hospitable, then perhaps we'd scratch by. Perhaps. And occasionally I still think "Bite me, Yeltar"...
H/T to The Telegraph
Photo: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times