I read this question about how relatively weak zombies might cause complete global societal collapse, and an idea popped into my mind.
The zombies I am imagining;
They are living humans inflicted with a disease.
They can be killed by anything a regular human can.
The zombies travel in packs of ten to twenty infected, though they can grow to up to one-thousand strong in rare cases.
Opposing zombie packs can either fight each-other or merge into a larger pack. They are lead by the strongest individual.
Zombies need sustenance. When no large packs of infected are around and when no humans are around they will search for water and food and shelter.
Can use basic tools such as door handles and crowbars
About the virus;
The virus can be spread by infecting rats (and any other rodents) who later become rabid and swarm uninfected. Raccoons, opossums, and most marsupials are able to catch and transmit the virus as well as pigs and apes/chimps/monkeys. Other animals are not able to become infected.
The virus is blood-borne, and saliva-borne, meaning bites will transmit the infection as well as getting infected blood in your body.
Once someone is infected, that person has 24-96 hours until "transformation." The first 75% of this time you experience no symptoms. Then a fever sets in and you have pounding headaches for the final 25% before you pass out and reawaken as a "zombie."
The zombie virus kills any and all disease-causing organisms in the body.
I ask, would the virus spread in small towns in central and southern United States as quickly as in the cities? I imagine that the virus would mainly affect the big cities before groups of infected wander into the countryside. How towns handle the infected would vary. Some might try to treat them, and these towns would be the first to go. Beleaguered military divisions and routed National Guard units would likely fall back into the country as well, undoubtedly carrying a few infected soldiers with them.
I ask this because I live in a small town in southern Illinois called Iuka, and just about everyone here owns a gun. There are literally ten year olds who have guns. Outside the town there are dozens of farmers, and each one probably has enough rifles and hand guns to supply a small army. In the city this would never happen.
The sheer number of people in cities means laws must be in place to heavily regulate the ownership of deadly weapons. In small towns, it seems these laws do not exist, or, at the very least, are not enforced. I personally think my town is ready to take out swarms of rabid raccoons, opossums, and rats. God knows we have enough ammo to pump every animal in the region full of lead a few times over.
Would the time allotted to small towns1 make any real difference in their fate?
How would the limited social structure of my zombies affect the ability of small towns to resist?
1 Of course, some towns would fall as infected people fled the cities, but I am assuming most towns would have a decent chance to prepare as opposed to the cities.