There are a number of viruses which change the
behavior of the infected host, to varying degrees.
A "zombie state" is probably best approximated by
rabies. Symptoms include (among
others) hallucinations and increased
aggression, leading to the infected
individual biting others. There is also evidence
that the influenza virus ("the flu") might increase
few other organisms are known to alter
cognitive function by destroying brain
tissue, as can
prions. However, full "mind
control", wherein the host is driven to
complete a specific set of actions, seems to occur
animals other than humans.
Wow, that is an exciting question!
Although I don’t know of any virus that turns
people into zombies, I do know of
a fungus which turns ants into zombies.
There is a special fungi of the genus
Ophiocordyceps, which infects certain
species of ants and controls their
actions, effectively turning them into zombies.
This is called “behavioral
manipulation.” In the case of these ants, the
fungus takes over their nervous
system and makes the ants climb up onto a twig or
leaf. The fungus then kills
the ant and grows a spore out of the ant’s body.
The spore then spreads the fungus to other ants.
Although this fungus does not infect humans (that
we know of!), there are
diseases I know which can alter behavior of
humans, which is pretty close to
being mind controlled! The most prominent example
I can think of is rabies.
Rabies is a viral infection which affects the
brain. It can cause insomnia,
confusion, aggressive or abnormal behavior,
hallucinations, among other
symptoms. It may also cause hydrophobia.
Scientists have noted that many of
these symptoms aid the spread of the virus. For
example, aggressive behavior
makes infected individuals more likely to come
into close contact with other
animals which the virus can infect. Similarly,
since the virus makes it so the
victim cannot drink, and the thought of drinking
or swallowing may cause
spasms of muscles in the throat, excess saliva
cannot be swallowed and again
the virus has a higher chance of spreading. In
this sense, the virus is very
much like a zombie infection in that it turns
its host into a vehicle to infect further victims.
Another example of this is the parasite
Toxoplasma gondii. The disease caused
by infection with this parasite is called
toxoplasmosis. The parasite is known to
infect rodents and make them lose their fear of
cats, which is advantageous to
the parasite because it breeds in the guts of
cats. Although this parasite is
known to infect human brains, scientists do not
agree on whether or not it has
any effect on the behavior of human hosts.
Other diseases which affect the brain and nervous
system, and thereby the
behavior of victims that I was able to find
include prion diseases and subacute
sclerosing panencephalitis. The study of
diseases is called pathology, and
there are all kinds of diseases which we don’t
know about yet. Maybe one day you will discover a
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