Vote for us:

Zombie Top Site List

Infection and Reanimation
Termination and Containment
Viral Zombies in Popular Culture
Links found on this page


The term "Viral Zombie" generally refers to any zombie whose origins can be traced back to some form of viral infection. The source of the virus can come from an almost endless number of places and situations, but in the end, the results are always the same. A form of virus spreads from person to person, creating zombies that walk among us until either we are extinct, or they are contained and eradicated. Below, you will find all the information needed to get a good understanding of the many causes and effects of a possible viral zombie outbreak. You will also get a look into the physiology and behavioral patterns of zombies. It is always best to know your enemy.


Interior of a biological
research laboratory

The outbreak is the point at which the "zombie virus" begins to spread in an uncontrolled pattern from person to person. The possible sources for a zombie viral outbreak are far too numerous for us to list here, but we will list some common and widely accepted theories to help give you an understanding of what to look out for.

One theory is that the virus is stumbled upon or created by accident. While researching a completely unrelated topic, a scientist accidentally creates the possible undoing of mankind. Since the results are unexpected, no formal measures of containment are set in place, and the virus spreads rapidly at will.

Sticking with the "creation theory" listed above, in this scenario, the virus is created intentionally as an agent of biological warfare, or perhaps as a method to resuscitate people from the perils of death. The virus is purposefully or accidentally released, and the consequences are far greater than anyone could have imagined.

Lastly, the "zombie virus" could occur naturally. Nature has a strange way of making some of the most ghastly creations, and zombies are not out of the realm of possibilities. The virus can be a new strain of an existing virus such as Rabies or Ebola, or something completely new to the world.

No matter what the scenario, the virus would spread from person to person as they have a habit of doing, and the world would never be the same.

Infection and Reanimation

After the initial outbreak, infected beings, who are also carriers of the virus, branch out and, by instinct, begin to infect others. The virus generally spreads via direct contact of infected blood, saliva, or other body tissues and fluids. This is usually seen in the form of a bite or an infected wound such as a scratch.

Several theories exist that may help indicate why zombies bite people. Some believe that the body is, for all intensive purposes, shut down or "dead". Nonetheless, they still need fuel to maintain their basic functions and thus, zombies try to feed on whatever they can get their hands on. Others believe that the bite is just the natural process that the virus follows in order to infect a new host and multiply. Though these theories are sound, it is still unknown what actually drives a zombie to bite someone. Despite their motives, zombies do, in fact, bite people, thus causing another person to become infected. This chain reaction continues and increases exponentially until either the supply of hosts is depleted or the infected beings are contained.

After a new host is infected, the virus instantly goes to work restructuring and tailoring the host's body to its needs. This is generally referred to as the "incubation period". During this time period, the body undergoes several changes. Systems and body functions that are not essential to the virus's reproduction are shut down. Most of the host's basic thought processes are diminished, the body can no longer regulate its temperature correctly, and fevers ensue. Motor functions are slowed, and the body is weakened. The host slowly loses its grasp on conscious thought. The virus completely takes over, and the host, for all intensive purposes is dead. This aspect of the viral zombie's life cycle closely resembles that of a parasitic zombie. The body may also under go several physical changes as well. Often times, muscle mass and density increases, the production of fluid from the saliva glands also increases. This allows for a stronger more potent bite to aid in passing the virus along to another host.

The incubation period varies from person to person. There are several factors that come into play - the host's immune system, bite location (meaning that bites on or near major arteries or veins will spread the infection much faster than small bites or scratches), ambient temperature, viral count, etc... Incubation can be as fast as one minute and last as long as several days, but generally only takes a few minutes. After the virus has completed its transformation of the host's body, it reanimates. The recently diseased host seems to spring back to life, a shell of its former self. It is now driven by the instinct to pass along the virus to the next host.


A Decaying Zombie
from Universal Studios
"Dawn of the Dead" (2004)

Your average zombie generally does not behave in a manor that resembles anything that was once human, both mentally and physically. Once reanimation has occurred, it is easy to tell at first glance that that risen zombie is no longer a living member of society. Its movement is generally slow and erratic with very poor motor skills and coordination. Its walk is clumsy and unbalanced at best, and is commonly referred to colorfully as "the zombie shuffle". This is caused in part by the cellular decay of their nerves and tissue, and also poor functioning of the portion of the brain that controls motor functions. Without control of their circulatory and other systems, the body begins to decay quite rapidly. This rapid decay occurs in all parts of the body including the eyes, leaving zombies with a very poor sense of sight. This in turn makes them even more erratic as they attempt to function with their impaired senses. Surprisingly enough, zombies seem very sensitive to sound and light. Some theorize that, instinctually, sound and light (what little they can see) are simple signs of life and go out like beacons that draw zombies to them like a moth to a flame (so to speak).

Mentally, a zombie seems to have a one-track mind (or what is left of a mind). All emotions are gone, both good and bad. They have an unknown need to feed and infect, and will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. Their appetite is insatiable. Even with a fresh kill or a full stomach, they don't "think" twice about dropping whatever they are doing to pursue another target. Few things slow them, and nothing short of "death" stops them.

Although they are no longer human, it is important to realize that they were once human, and often times still retain small bits of instincts and habits common to everyday life. For example, instinctually zombies still remember how to walk, crawl, eat, chew, bite, and even make simple noises such as grunts and screams. Habitually, zombies "seem" to remember that you can gain entry into a location via a door or window. They also "seem" to remember how to use a door, and that glass can shatter if enough force is applied. Zombies are also known to congregate in areas that are common places to be in every day life; for example, a shopping mall, or place of business. Little is known as to why zombies actually behave this way, but it is safe to assume that some portion of their memory may still remain.

Termination and Containment

Viral Zombies are extremely resilient creatures. Since they are existing on only the most basic of body functions, they have little (if any) need for any of their internal organs. This trait allows them to sustain severe damage to the body without stopping. Zombies have been know to take dozens of rounds of bullets, have limbs destroyed or severed, and even have their body be cut in half. All this does little to stop them, and will only serve to slow them down at best.

The only method that has proven effective in completely stopping and "killing" a zombie is destruction of the brain. Decapitation is also often effective, but in some cases, the severed head has been known to function independently of the body for a period of time, although this is rare. Given time, the effects of decay on the body will eventually reach the brain, and the zombie will effectively "rot to death". It is unsure exactly how long this will take, but it is reasonable to assume that it is possible to outlast a zombie outbreak.

Examples of Viral Zombies in Popular Culture
  • The video game and film series "Resident Evil" features zombies created by a viral outbreak that was created by a corporation seeking to profit from what they discovered.

  • Though it was never fully explained, it is reasonable to assume that the zombies featured in George A. Romero's "Dead" series were created by some form of viral outbreak.

  • The popular titles "The Zombie Survival Guide" and "World War Z", written by Max Brooks, tell elaborate stories based on zombies being created by a "zombie virus".

Links found on this page
Zombie Crisis is Copyright 2007-2010. For all other information please visit our legal section.