Rick Grimes and zombies from The Walking Dead

So the end is nigh and the dead are walking the streets again… What do you do?! Most of the zombie fans out there probably have a plan set out of what they will do should this catastrophic event kick off.

Should you load up with as many weapons, survival knives and other gear as possible and barricade yourself in a shopping centre? Or do you travel light and keep moving, only stopping in towns for a few days at a time?

And what do you do should you encounter one of these creatures? Do you aim for the head like so many films advise us to?

Well, two experts from Manchester Metropolitan University have joined forces to explain the science behind surviving.

Joanna Verran, a Professor of Microbiology and Matthew Crossley, a Web Technologies lecturer have combined their extensive knowledge to share what you should really do if humans started turning into zombies for real:

Find the source

Finding the source would be an extremely important thing to do in real life, but quite often gets overlooked in the films (usually in favour of pure, unadulterated zombie killin’) so finding where everything stemmed from is a must.

By deciphering if an outbreak was as a result of a small lab accident or from some contaminated food currently being shipped worldwide, you can determine how quickly the disease might spread.

Due to the fact that zombies don’t die naturally, you’ll also have to consider population density and the ability of people to fight the zombies when working out how quickly the outbreak will spread.

Being bitten isn’t the worst

The experts also added that being bitten isn’t the end of the world, as it isn’t the most efficient method for disease transmission – airborne infections transfer far easier.

You will want to keep your wits about you though, as zombiesm (is that a thing?!) can make the infected behave a bit off colour, in an agitated, paranoid way which is why they can get a bit bitey.

Avoiding being bitten is probably best practice anyway, as if you have become infected via an airborne disease and the nibble makes you lose a lot of blood… Well, you do the maths!

So, how do we ensure that the zombie apocalypse isn’t truly the end?

The experts have noted four ways that, should an outbreak happen, we can ensure it isn’t truly the end of days. They are as follows:


As you could probably imagine, keeping all infected people separate from the rest of the population is a good start, although as we’ve all seen in the TV shows and films, it is much easier said than done.

Even one infected person breaking free from quarantine and is not captured can run the risk of destroying the host species… Heavy.

Kill the zombies off

If there isn’t a cure or the cure is taking too long to create, a ‘selective cull’ is the next step. Although, as with the quarantine, you could miss an infected or their symptoms might not be as prevalent as others, and that spells danger.

Eliminate everyone…

Described as the scariest of the options by the experts, wiping off a massive section of the infected area would be very effective. This subject is often touched upon in TV shows and films, but is quite often nipped in the bud.

Obviously, nuking a massive area will wipe out the infected, but what of the innocents… Talk about a moral dilemma!


If you don’t fancy fighting or possibly wiping out a large section of humanity, you could just find yourself a cosy hole and wait for the whole thing to blow over.

However, if your safe zone is breached, you have created a perfect breeding ground for the disease to spread quickly in a very small space, so choose your hidey hole wisely.

After all of this, you may be wondering why two experts spent their time to talk about how you would contain a fictitious disease, but it does offer some insight into the ways a real pandemic would be dealt with, just in case!


Photo courtesy of Intergalaticrobot, under Creative Commons