In my short story, there is (today) technology to "bring back" the recent dead. Joanna Public dies of exposure and is found a week later in the woods a few miles outside of Portland, Oregon. Luckily Joe Doctor can 're-animate' her to her mental self fully.

This is not like a zombie movie, she's fully capable, very happy to be back albeit a little bit stiff (ha) but had to have a lot of cleaning up and there are bugs and things.

Then this starts to be common practice that can happen only a few weeks after death, and obviously not if someone was embalmed or cremated. It is for people who have died of natural causes.

In my story, I want to know what are the implications of infectious disease, from bringing people back who have been exposed to decomposition. This is not a zombie story. I must use that tag, though, because I can't think of much else to describe it. They are mentally and happily back to normal; setting aside the science to bring them back, what (existing) diseases could they spread?

  • $\begingroup$ exposure is not "natural causes". If anything having organ systems wear out to the point of failing sounds like what would not work, otherwise why not just use the treatment to prevent ageing? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 5:10

1 Answer 1


I feel like any sufficiently advanced medicine that could bring a rotting corpse back to life and restore the neural circuitry weeks after death would have zero issues eliminating infectious diseases in the process.

But all the bacteria eating your flesh out there are sitting around in the woods already. If you go roll around in the leaves, you've got all kinds of microbial life all over you. It's just that your immune system takes short work of anything hostile and you rarely even get sick.

So if there were some disease leftover from the experience, it wouldn't likely be anything all of us haven't already been exposed to a thousand times, and any transmission of that disease would be of little consequence.

Even straight up eating rotten food will mostly just make you really sick for several days. By the time the patient is released, their immune system would have taken care of most everything, and as long as they bothered to bathe at some point, it would be a non-issue.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Also, mostly bacteria decomposing corpses and infecting people are two separate things. Infectious diseases the question is about die with the host and decomposing bacteria have no need for the ability to infect living hosts. Weakened immune system or injury sometimes allows decomposing bacteria to become an issue with a living host. But such problems are only infectious within hospitals or other areas with lots of people with weakened immune systems. So doctors would be aware of the issue and already dealing with it. Just as the answer implies. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 10:33

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