Work on your cardio and get your wire-covered-bats ready: Scientists at the University of British Columbia are reminding the public that zombies are real.
Okay, these are not zombies from "The Walking Dead," but instead zombie parasites, which live inside their organisms hosts and basically control their lives. They can also contribute to the spread of disease.
"While preparing for the rise of the undead is a little over the top, new diseases are emerging all the time, and thinking about how we'd prep for a zombie apocalypse is a great way of getting us thinking about more realistic disease scenarios, like a viral pandemic," University of British Columbia assistant professor Jennifer Gardy said in a release.
The university is running a seminar series about the threat of real-life zombies and the diseases they spread. Their lectures will be broadcast on YouTube. The first video is already live, and it runs through outbreak management—such as diagnosis and outbreak management—and science education techniques.
"When people are excited about something like zombies, when everyone is familiar with it, it makes for a really effective teaching tool," Dr. Deborah Money, executive vice dean of medicine, said in the first lecture.
Zombies have recently been an effective way to get the public interested in real science. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention got the internet talking about real disaster management plans when they created a zombie preparedness plan.
"So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house," the CDC instructs.
The disaster plan runs through all the steps one would need to take before any real-world disaster: make a kit with food and water, pick a meeting place to regroup if separated from loved ones, identify emergency contacts like local police and fire departments and plan an evacuation route.
Other organizations picked up on the CDC's idea and created their own zombie preparation plans as a way to increase public awareness around real disaster planning.
The University of Florida's zombie plan includes being aware of early warning signs of an infection, such as: "disappearance of isolated citizens, initially in relatively remote areas" and "increasing numbers of gruesome unexplained deaths and disappearances, especially at night." The parody plan even includes an "infected co-worker dispatch form" that includes a checkbox for how you knew they were a zombie (such as "killed and ate another employee").
That being said, if Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead" is any indication, the scariest part of a zombie apocalypse are the humans left behind.