A common trope in zombie mediums in to base the virus off of rabies. While this choice does have some obvious reasoning to it, it has been long over done. Relatively recently, The Last of Us came out and broke away from this by basing their virus off of chordyceps, more commonly called the ant zombie fungus.

This worked really well, with every step of the infected design process, clickers to airborne spores, to be based off of the original fungus. What about a Cholera based zombie Infection? Similar to how a Chordyceps base introduced Clickers and Spores, what notable features would be brought along by a Cholera base?

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    $\begingroup$ I assume you mean non-obvious dangers, namely those other than zombiism and diarrhea ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Catalyst
    Mar 14, 2017 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Catalyst of course $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Mar 14, 2017 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ Are you looking for transmisability issues Tres? Can you specify what information you are looking for? $\endgroup$
    – James
    Mar 14, 2017 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ @James I am looking for what the side effects of a Cholera based zombie illness would be $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Mar 14, 2017 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah I got that! :D but are you curious about the transmissibilty, the symptoms? Both? Just asking for you to specify the information you are looking for. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Mar 14, 2017 at 18:00

3 Answers 3


Cholera spreads mostly through poor sanitation, contaminated by faeces.

To make this a truly terrible thing in terms of zombies, your zombies are going to have to eat and excrete a heck of a lot and not be terribly well house-trained.

They'll basically be stinking, shuffling, diarrhoea dribbling zombies of the worst possible kind.

This will be spread by any kind of water supplies or food. Survivors are going to have to purify all their water as well as fight off the unwashed hordes (preferably wearing hypo-allergenic non-latex surgical gloves).

It's what smell-o-vision was invented for.

  • $\begingroup$ That seems to mean no modern fast zombies (who can run with diarrhea?), and the classic shuffling zombies lose the element of surprise when upwind. Night of The Living Dead would be merely gross, no longer scary. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 15, 2017 at 1:37
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 If zombies are rotting corpses, they already smell an order of magnitude worse than sewage. $\endgroup$
    – DrBob
    Mar 15, 2017 at 18:09

This premise offers an excellent chance to explore a transmission route that has never been done in zombie literature. Typical cholera is spread by fecal contamination of the water but direct contact with feces works even better. Thus these zombies, instead of trying to bite like rabid skunks would explosively defecate upon their victims. Which is also sort of skunklike when you think about it.

Cholera zombies would wear no pants, of course; pants greatly decrease the range attainable with an explosive defecation. Short skirts are always ok. I am not sure if they should run at the victim and at the last minute whip around 180 degrees and bend over, or if running backwards at the victim would be more effective. Some zombies might assume the lithotomy position and be carried and braced by their comrades (zombrades?) like a cholera bazooka. And there is the old monkey "flung dung" standby. Yes: a welcome reprieve from all the biting.

One good thing about the biting is that you can use teeth over and over. But explosive defecation requires matter to defecate. If the zombies do not ingest this matter they will become smaller and smaller as time progresses which itself offers interesting story options. The protagonist might deal with a crowd of diminutive zombies with effective kicks, or possibly a hockey stick. Zombies could ingest victims but (a dilemma with all zombie scenarios) victims slow enough to catch are probably already zombies themselves.

But is this bad? Zombies eating other zombies has not been done either and would be perfect for this. Especially if there are little tasty morsel zombies running about. A zombie replete with zombie meat will grow; not in height but certainly in abdominal girth. These very rotund short skirt-wearing zombies will generate huge internal pressures (via fermentation, as is also true for nonzombies) and be a terrifying force for contagion.


Cholera is not virus but bacteria.

The main problem (from scientific viewpoint) with zombies is, that they would need energy to move, but they can't have, since they are dead, and their metabolic processes are not working. In the Last of Us, the infected people are not dead, the fungus is controlling them while they are alive. This solves the energy problem, but these are not real undead.

If we forget this problem, the main feature of cholera-zombi-disease would be their waterborne nature. They would not bite. Instead, they would crowding by water sources, drinking the clean water, and then shit and vomit into it. If you would drink from the water, you would become a zombie to.

Since cholera doesn't show any inclination to deal with nerve system, I don't really see, why you have picked this disease from all the water-based illnesses.

  • $\begingroup$ What other waterborne illness would you suggest? $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Mar 14, 2017 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ @TrEs-2b I would say polio. It's a virus, and definitely can mess with nerve system, since it causes paralysis. Of course, no microbe is really capable of causing zombiness, but it's the closest call among the waterbornes. $\endgroup$
    – b.Lorenz
    Mar 14, 2017 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ Many bacteria, including cholera, actually do form nets of large numbers of cells with different specializations called "biofilms". $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2017 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ @TheBlackCat You were right, I've missed that. But even in a biofilm, they don't form anything like a brain, which would be necessary to make zombies walk and sense. $\endgroup$
    – b.Lorenz
    Mar 14, 2017 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ @b.Lorenz: neither does fungus, but cordesceps still works. Lots of other pathogens alter their hosts' behavior for the pathogen's benefit. They would need to release certain brain chemicals or damage certain areas of the brain, but they wouldn't need to have a brain themselves. $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2017 at 1:19

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