Recent reports have tracked a deadly viral brain disease all the way from Canada to Florida via chickens. Epidemiological analysis has shown that an outbreak of the eastern equine encephalitis virus, also known as EEE or sleeping sickness, may have originated in the Florida panhandle; working its way up to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and eventually Canada.

The symptoms of EEE may be of special interest to zombie researchers and often include an altered mental state, photophobia, and deadly seizures with a fatality rate of thirty-three percent. Due to the virus’s effect on the brain, patients who survive can be left with mental and physical impairments such as personality disorders, paralysis, or intellectual impairment.

Thankfully, captive chickens are regularly tested for a range of viruses which usually provide researchers with an early warning before any possible human outbreaks can occur. The Mosquito Control Commission of Brevard County and the Florida Department of Health in Brevard County explained the process online in a recent public service announcement.

The staff of the county mosquito commission routinely samples the blood of the chicken flock and provides the serum to the state lab for analysis. If the lab results are positive the health department generates action notices to the public on the cited mosquito activity and recommends implementation of precautionary measures to diminish the exposure to the various types of Encephalitis (West Nile, St. Louis, and Eastern Equine) to human and animal alike.

Basically, a rare horse disease that be can be transmitted to humans via mosquitoes was successfully tracked using chickens. It’s a fascinating story of a zoonotic disease hopping from one population to the next that almost reads like a modern day medical thriller.

This deadly international outbreak of eastern equine encephalitis perfectly illustrates the importance of epidemiology and need for statistical analysis during the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Despite government regulations, international laws, and borders; even a single organization or employee can put millions at risk due to complacency, lax procedures, or a blatant disregard of their duties. And the zombie virus will happily exploit any vulnerability!

You may think that screening for the zombie virus would be illusive or exceptionally difficult, and therefore the process will be much more stringent. But even well-known diseases like tuberculosis, measles, and the deadly bubonic plague are making their way back into society.

Take mumps for example; between January 2016 and February 2018 there were zero cases of this viral disease reported at immigration facilities across the United States. However, as of March 2019 more than 2,000 detainees have been quarantined due to a recent outbreak.

And now we’re beginning to see a national pandemic of mumps around the country including Temple University in Pennsylvania, Indiana University, even among our sailors and Marines aboard a Navy ship at Fort McHenry; all for a viral disease that had been nearly eradicated.

The ability to track a zoonotic virus across the continent via chickens is impressive; but that was well after the fact. Instead, early prevention is key. Remember that the Jerusalem wall in World War Z, or the NATO compound in 28 Weeks Later, were only breached by the undead due to complacency and carelessness. If humanity is to survive, we must do better!

To learn more about the spread of the eastern equine encephalitis virus please read “Complex Epidemiological Dynamics of Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus in Florida” available online via The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. You can also check out these news reports from American Veterinarian, Cosmos Magazine, and Outbreak News Today.

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