In 28 Days Later the Rage Virus causes uncontrollable aggression and changes in personality. Is such virus even possible in principle? I'm not talking about rabies but rather about a genetically engineered virus that causes those symptoms. Maybe by inserting genes responsible for adrenaline or vasopressin release. Of course I know the time shown in the movie to change a person (a couple seconds) is impossible.

  • $\begingroup$ "I'm not taking about rabies but rather about genetically modified rabies maybe by inserting genes responsible for adrenaline or vasopressin release in such virus." FTFY $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ Why are you not talking about rabies? They basically prove that it is possible (sans the speed), though getting specific effects could require a lot of experiments and research. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


No, but maybe yes.

The idea of parasites or other diseases that can cause changes to behaviour is well established. For example there is fungus that takes control of ants. There are parasites that make mice and rats get eaten by cats. Rabies is a classic example as well.

But changes as drastic as those shown in 28 days later? That's a bit more of a stretch.

A virus (or any other disease) that spreads as fast and acts as fast as that in 28 days later? That doesn't seem reasonable. It just can't infect and multiply in a host that quickly.

So a weaker, slower spreading version? Maybe. As shown in the films? No.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Note that the parasite that makes rodents more likely to be eaten by cats, Toxoplasma gondii, is suspected affect humans too, including increasing aggressivity, reducing risk awareness, slowing reflexes, reducing social intelligence, increasing egoism. Basically the same changes that in mice increase the risk of getting eaten by a cat, except in humans they increase the risk of having a car accident. The changes are, however, quite subtle, only noticeable by statistical analysis. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ I like how having a cat might reduce your social intelligence, gives a new spin to the crazy person next door, who owns forty-seven cats. $\endgroup$
    – Christian
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ This would actually be creepier than the normal zombie virus. Imagine that people who were infected slowly became more and more aggressive, until they hit zombie status. Do you just lock up all of your slightly assertive people, who are adamant that they feel fine, and wait until they stop screaming? What happens if someone clean is being tested and gets frustrated during the screening process? It would not end well, and it would probably be more traumatic than a real zombie apocalypse. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 16:33

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