Over the past week there have been a rash of attacks that seem to fit the concept of the traditional Zombie-esque attacks. First there was the man in Miami that was attacked and had his face chewed on by his attacker, then there was the report from New Jersey where a man was actually throwing parts of himself at officers and now a new report from Maryland where a man killed his roommate and actually ate his brain.

Many are wondering if this is actually a sign of the Zombie Apocalypse, after-all, the news is becoming harder and harder to distinguish from the fictional newscasts in zombie horror movies, but are Zombies actually real?

The shocking truth is a resounding YES.

In-fact, the folklore of the “Zombi” has been around for centuries and it was just believed that stories were exaggerated and that, stories.

The folklore of the “Zombi” is actually from African traditions, particularly tied to the practice of “Vodou” (Voodoo). According to folklore a dead person can be revived by a “Bokor,” or sorcerer, through witchcraft-voodoo. Once reanimated, the Zombie is controlled by the Bokor. Some variations of this folklore say that a small child may be able to create a zombie while others say that the Vodou snake-god “Iwa Damballah Wedo” possesses the body. The associated means of destroying the zombie include feeding the zombie salt, killing the bokor or using a “Sangoma” (Herbalist) to break the spell.

While the folklore has existed for centuries it wasn’t until Anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston encountered a case in 1937 that the reality of the Zombi actually was accepted as reality. However, it was not really understood until 1985 when Wade Davis, an Ethnobotanist, examined the phenomena.

There are two means of turning a living person into a “Zombi” through very powerful psychoactive drugs. The first is through “Coup de poudre,” this is a powder that contains the powerful neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (pufferfish poison). The second is through another neurotoxin called datura. These powerful poisons introduced into the body in the right amounts can create a near-death state. Family would believe the individual is dead and bury them. At this time the “Bokor” would be able to abduct the body and using the proper quantities of drugs, be able to keep the victim in a trance-like-state. These victims are so common in African cultures that many individuals were actually abducted and turned into Zombies to do menial labor.

So, how realistic is it that the recent attacks can actually be real zombie attacks?

While Hollywood has conditioned our culture that Zombies are created through a viral outbreak of some form real zombies are created through psycho-active drugs. Through those drugs it is possible to manipulate a victim into attacking another individual, chewing their face, eating their brains or even not feeling wounds to the point of being able to rip out one’s own organs. It is a possibility. Could these attacks lead to infections? Maybe more Zombies? As with any case, exposure to another person’s bodily fluids can lead to infection and any number of other blood-born pathogens. Unlike Hollywood, true Zombies are created with drugs and those attacked will not experience the effects unless they are poisoned as well.

Bit of food for thought, a Scottish psychiatrist highlighted the link between schizophrenia and Zombies noting how similar the traits of behavior were.

Zombie Apocalypse? You be the judge.