I am part of a small group of scientists who have recently created a virus to turn people into zombies.

The virus is highly contagious and is transmitted through bodily fluids, like blood or saliva. I've just released it in my city of about 2,500 people.

When I released it, I did so by contaminating the water supply. Within minutes, most of the town will be infected, and the zombies will continue to spread out and infect the world.

The zombies look like normal people, and they seem tired. They limp around slightly, but appear to be normal otherwise. However, they attempt to spread the virus by biting people with their sharp teeth. They are not very intelligent, but can easily overcome small obstacles (like walls or steps).

But there's a twist. I'm not trying to stop it. I'm trying to encourage it.

My eventual goal is to wipe out the world by turning everyone into zombies, and then waiting for them to die off.

My team also shares the same motives as me. We plan to help the spread of the virus.

We have an unlimited supply of this virus, and have means to spread it (syringes, vials, etc.)

We do have money, but only around $50,000 USD. We plan to use it to buy airplane tickets and spread the virus that way.

Now for the question: Is it possible to infect the world this way, and if so, how?

We do have a vaccine that prevents us from being infected. In the end we are prepared to take our own lives once all humans are wiped out.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @sdrawkcabdear You're contagious within minutes, but symptoms don't appear for a couple hours, and people don't start attacking until about 12 hours. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2016 at 22:00
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    $\begingroup$ What do you mean "the world". Infect all counties 80% of the population 90%, 99.99% there are many isolated groups that have very rare contact so the last 5 or 10 % get much harder $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2016 at 22:11
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    $\begingroup$ Make sure you start your spreading at Madagascar. $\endgroup$
    – Euphoric
    Jan 29, 2016 at 8:02
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @Euphoric Or Greenland. :) $\endgroup$ Feb 5, 2016 at 16:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You really need to play "Plague Inc" it models these scenarios very well $\endgroup$
    – Solanacea
    Apr 28, 2017 at 22:35

12 Answers 12


It's dead easy.

No pun intended, but I do like the way that sentence worked out.

Your virus can contaminate water sources, which is huge, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that you can also contract it by means of touching an infected surface (for a certain amount of time), or by breathing it if sprayed in your face.

For maximum effect I recommend that the virus not kick in for at least a few hours after infection, so that the infected people have a chance to go home and attack their families/coworkers etc.

What you need to do is target both major population centers as well as distributing the virus via airports.


All you need to do is hire a whole bunch of hapless people to go on a business trip for you. Give them a package that they have to personally deliver. It's going to be completely innocous except for the fact that the virus will slowly seep out and infect that person and anyone around them in a set period of time.

They will become infected and then either go on a rampage in the plane/airport, or when they reach their destinations, which is actually far more effective.

If you coordinate hundreds of such individuals leaving from international airports all over the US, you can hit every capital in the world in a day.

Personally I think this method ensures maximum dispersion and anonymity on your part, however you need to ensure that whatever seeps our of the package can infect as many people as possible - such as everyone in a given airplane over the course of a few hours.

Hand Sanitizer/Air Fresheners

Create your very own virus-infused hand sanitizer and donate samples to every university/library/community center you can think of. Even better, just have your henchmen (or unaware employees) simply walk into public places and leave your air-fresheners or sanitizer stations in washrooms for people to use.

The great thing about this approach is that you could leave them in the washrooms of restaurants, caffes, etc. all over a city. It'll be hours and hours before anyone notices that they don't belong there. The problem is that unless you need someone to physically leave this stuff in each and every place.

The plus of this method is that, again, you could pay some kids to go around dropping these off in busy lunch-time locations, and then have zombies attacking offices full of people all over the city, which would ensure maximum exposure, panic, and make any coordinated response that much more difficult to deal with.

Primary Targets

Unfortunately your zombie apocalypse will simply never come about unless you incapacitate the military's ability to react to it. In other words you could infect thousands of people, cause a borderline societal collapse, but still have most of your progress rolled back a decently organized military force. (or a nuke)

What you will want to do in the very first days of this kicking off is make sure to get a very slow acting version of the virus into the White House/Capitol Building/etc., and into as many military bases across the US as possible.

This will ensure that as many people as possible in the emergency decision making process will be incapacitated as the catastrophe kicks off.

  • $\begingroup$ Air fresheners in public restrooms are a good idea. The only problem is airports, I don't think they'd allow those through. They do make airport-size hand sanitizer for this reason, so I could use that and put small dabs of it on things like faucets. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2016 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ There are washrooms in the public access areas of airports (where people check in their baggage, drop off loved ones, etc). Also, if the virus is simply dispersing from a container in your bag and people are breathing it in as you walk around then there's little to no protection, especially in a sealed plane, where the air is recirculated for hours and hours. Or imagine spreading the virus on the faucets and surfaces in a plane's washrooms. How many people use those in a long-haul flight? Pretty much everyone. Good idea if your virus never goes airborne. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Jan 28, 2016 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't the small container with the virus be confiscated by security? They check bags for things out of place and probably wouldn't mind going through the entire thing, just to be sure. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2016 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ I love the hand sanitizer! The irony! $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2016 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ the scientists could deliver the hand sanitizers themselves if they want to take a more proactive approach, as they have the immunity. deliver sanitizer in airports, fancy restaurants, gas stations, and official buildings (think city hall). air fresheners could be slipped into bags and pockets on busy streets, hidden in a corner or in a window out on the street, placed by school entrances before the kids arrive, or placed in bus and subway stations. $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2018 at 18:14

I think you don't stand any chance of wiping out humanity.

  • Your virus is way too aggressive and acts too quickly. In real life (as compared to movies and books) the viruses which really kill a lot of people have a comparably low mortality rate (or at least act slowly) and long incubation periods with little to no symptoms. This allows the virus to spread on its own (undetected), making sure infected victims can spread the decease. If they just right out die 100% of the times, they can't contribute much.
  • Your virus isn't airborne. If infection only occurs through bodily fluids that means it is a lot easier to contain, even with primitive means (i.e. gloves) instead of the full-hazmat conditions you'd need to effectively combat airborne pathogens.
  • 50'000$ really isn't much. It will buy you some flight tickets, but nothing in the vicinity of professional covert distributions systems, or drones, or specialized infected products to give away, or some such...

Don't get me wrong, you will create a lot of suffering, and potentially hundreds of thousands might die. But the situation after your first wave of (deliberately orchestrated) infections will be that of a small scale, distributed zombie apocalypse, and I think by now we all know how to handle these effectively... (Zombies are really just way to obvious - and sooo easy to deal with, compared to something like the common flu.)

Bottom line: There have been waaaaay more dangerous epidemics and pandemics which all did not even come close to wiping out humanity. Even if you kill tens of Millions, there are just so many humans organized in so many communities... I say it is absolutely impossible to get them all, especially given the limitations above.


Everyone is saying how easy it is. But - you wrote that your eventual goal is to wipe out the world by turning everyone into zombies, and then waiting for them to die off. An infection via fluids can be stopped with a bunch of quarantines, I'm afraid.


  • Government/s, military or medical agencies catch up quickly, quarantine areas and save half(quarter/whatever percent) of humanity
  • A vaccine is developed on time
  • Natural immunity is developed, many people can't be contaminated.
  • One of your team members renegades, facilitates the above
  • Bruce Willis goes back in time. Fails to prevent the spread, but a percent of humanity survived and we got a cool movie. Is your group affiliated with monkeys?

It's a sad day for the otherwise jolly genociders :-(

You'll need to time your virus spreading op very well. Might like to put up two viruses at the same time, or coordinate with some other major disaster.


Here is something I noticed in your question:

When I released it, I did so by contaminating the water supply.

If you ignore the natural virus lifespan outside a host, what is stopping you from releasing the virus into the ocean and have it spread through our water systems? If there was a way for it to evaporate with water, it could spread through rain, but this method is not realistic.

Alternatively, can this virus be carried by other creatures? Current virus outbreaks, such as Ebola and Zika, can be transmitted by mosquitoes.

Zika has the double-whammy of being an STD. If you engineer the virus so it causes the host to be horny during part of their latent period, you can spread the virus through their bodily fluids. This works best if the host has multiple partners during this time.

If sweat counts as a bodily fluid, you can engineer sweating as a symptom of the latent period, as part of the period so the infected remain relatively undetectable. Then, anyone who comes in contact with the sweat will contract the disease. It would work well in an airplane if the host sits in the window seat; when they want to toss trash, they pass it to the person next to them who hands it to the flight attendant. Both touch the item and the sweat on it. Same with a cashier who handles money and cards.

As a side note, have you ever played Pandemic? It is both a board game and online in several iterations (1-3 currently) where you try to create a Pandemic and kill the Earth's population.

  • $\begingroup$ Have you ever played Plague Inc? Your link is broken, but it sounds pretty similar to Pandemic. $\endgroup$
    – John Locke
    Sep 18, 2018 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ Note that the online game Pandemic is completely unrelated to the board game Pandemic, they just share the same name and are about similar things (pandemics). They're very different in theme, as the board game is about stopping plagues, while the online ones are about being the plague. (And yeah, Plague Inc is similar to the online Pandemic.) $\endgroup$
    – Xanthir
    Sep 18, 2018 at 18:44

Here's a method that would require more resources but would be more likely to succeed:

Create your virus as a vaccine for some other disease or condition (flu or cancer). If it works as stated, whole governments will spread it for you. then you just need a trigger condition that activates it.

Then you get to spend the next couple of years being celebrated as a great humanitarian while you wait for the countdown for the trigger condition.

Evil is better with irony.

  • $\begingroup$ That. Is. Sick!!! (By sick I mean both cool and evil) $\endgroup$
    – Hi0401
    Jan 9, 2023 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ Is someone using my answer as a playbook? $\endgroup$
    – ShadoCat
    May 1, 2023 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ Not sure, it would be cool $\endgroup$
    – Hi0401
    May 3, 2023 at 13:18

I don't think so.

In order for any zombie apocalypse to occur, you need very large percentage of people to be infected and your virus only spreads through fluids. That's very similar to Ebola which is easily controlled in the developed world.

I don't think you'll be able to infect enough people either. You'll have to infect millions of cubic feet of water which will require A LOT of virus.

Your virus has to be airborne if you are to stand any chance.


There is no need to travel yourself.

Just mail innocuous seeming packages to every major city worldwide containing samples of the virus ready to be released when the package is opened. Mailing is far cheaper than travelling yourself so you can get close to worldwide dispersal before anyone even knows what is happening.

To supplement this you can specifically target areas that are likely to be troublesome by contaminating water sources and all major disease research locations worldwide. (CDC, WHO, etc. Get people to go and infect both their administrative and research areas in person).

Even with this you are unlikely to get 100% of people (there are always isolated islands, etc) but you can eliminate everyone able to do anything about it and over time the zombies will handle anything else. Pockets of survivors will be too small to need to worry about.


This is very very easy. Someone in the comments was close to the answer but didn't quite get it.

The pathogen needs to have the following characteristics:

  1. Spread through airborne (really aersolized) vectors
  2. Short incubation time until contagious
  3. Long incubation time (weeks or months) from being contagious until symptoms appear

By the time the public becomes aware of the threat - everyone is already infected.

Victory is assured, you just need to have a little patience.


With only $50K? The easiest way is to go to major international airport hubs. New York, LA, Washington, Atalanta (In the US) London, Beijing etc. It will depend on the number of people in your group, each take a route to hit 2-3 major airports and meet back in some 3rd world country and wait.

In each airport (assuming you have some way of protecting yourself, have an aerosol can and walk through the air port spraying it into the air near all the outbound flights. Most diseases take at a few hours to a few days to really set in, so if it is only 3 hours, then don't get on a flight, the pilot might succumb before you land. So actually you need the full affects to be delayed long enough for the host to survive across both oceans, or it will 'die' out to fast.

After each of you takes a few flights ending in less than 24 hours of flight, wait somewhere that you have stashed enough food, water and entertainment until things settle down. This could actually be done with the money left (This is assuming that the disease has been developed, enough has been produced and the delivery system exists).

Edt: assuming it needs to be spread by liquid, then you will need an aerosol that has larger drops, maybe even a little sweet smelling perfume to get people to inhale it right away.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Spraying an aerosol in an airport is a good way to get shot. If you even managed to get it in in the first place. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Jan 28, 2016 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ yes if you wander around with a can of hairspray you won't make it far, but a little ingenuity could work. Maybe disguised as an oxygen tank or something. $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Jan 28, 2016 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ You'd need some special permits/doctor's notes etc. to be allowed with a pressurized can/tank in an airport or on a plane. Also, people would be expecting you to wear it, be breathing the content. Not a good idea in this case. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Jan 28, 2016 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ I would assume they are doctors to have come up with this virus, and the mask should actually provide oxygen, so they could wear it and one hose spews out virus and the one toward the face oxygen, for a cover. $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Jan 28, 2016 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ Carrying an aerosol through an airport would be easy--you disguise it as a suitcase. Security?? What security--you do your spraying at the departure counters! $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2016 at 21:30

You have not a simple task, but it is somewhat possible. What you need is a virus, which you should spread like the sarin gas with a long incubation period, maybe some months or a couple of years, during which it must only be high contagious by air and can be passed by insects and without any symptom.

To spread it, divide the group and target very big hub like Rotterdam or other big harbor and touristics places and go to discos, pubs, malls and all the place where tourists (and working people) normally go. In every place, leave some of the liquid which contain the virus, which you can transport in a normal bottle of water and accidentally lose it open or spill.

It is better if you can go to the target zone during big holidays or an important event, in order to try to infect people coming from lots of places.

Repeat this at a distance of some months selecting other targets and other events and once the incubation period will end, you will have some thousand (or even tens of thousands) outbreaks, which will probably hit also the people which must combat them (like the militaries, the medics and so on)

Or you can try to use the same method used in the original Visitors series, in which they spreaded a virus (this time like dust) in the high atmosphere using hot air balloons and leaving to the nature to do the job.


Building on Tim B's excellent answer.

Use half of your money to buy perfume bottles and split the other half on postage and a mailing list.

Mail free samples of your new designer perfume to people everywhere.


Get a couple of beater cars and roadtrip! Your targets are the water supplies of major airports. Denver, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, LA, Dallas. Find out the major city water lines running into the airports and dump a bunch of your virus there, then take the rest and dump it into the city water supply wherever you you can. Then drive on to the next city. Attack in pairs on opposite sides of the country at the same time. Threes if you can manage it.

Try to coordinate your attacks in such a way that when the authority tries to analyze where the infection is coming from, they have to fight through additional layers of complexity. If they get patient zero from both Atlanta and LA at the same time it will slow the investigation. Maybe fly out of the airport you just hit to another very large airport, particularly in another country. Buy another beater and drive to yet another airport. Rinse and repeat.

You may not wipe out mankind completely, but you will have proven how effective a budget minded genocidal maniac can be.


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