The Walking Dead: Avoiding epidemics in the apocalypse

Walkers - The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Walkers - The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

Sometimes you feel like you’re living among the undead with all of the illnesses going around these days. How do the characters stay so healthy on The Walking Dead?

It’s flu season and across the country people are getting sick and dying from the flu at alarming rates. We’ve seen illness take its toll on The Walking Dead back in season 3 when the survivors were residing within the prison, but it seems like they have managed to stay healthy since then. Does that mean an epidemic should be on its way soon? How is it that everyone stays so healthy in the middle of the zombie apocalypse?

I have to admit that I often find myself thinking about mundane things in the world of The Walking Dead. What happens if you wear glasses and they break? What happens if you wear contact lenses? What if you have allergies, or are diabetic (which we have seen with Sherry’s sister), or have a chronic illness? Clearly, some of the people with health conditions will have distinct disadvantages over others.

But when it comes to illnesses, I have to wonder how the survivors have managed to stay so healthy when here in reality-land we’re not living in a zombie apocalypse and we’re surrounded by illness on a regular basis.

Case in point: I live in San Diego, where we have the glorious distinction of being dubbed America’s Finest City while battling not one but two full blown health emergencies: Outbreaks of the flu and hepatitis A. Yep. Not only are we faced with a record number of flu deaths this season, but the City of San Diego had to declare a health emergency for a hepatitis A outbreak thanks to large numbers of homeless people who have no access to sanitation. Hepatitis A spreads when you don’t wash your hands after using the bathroom, and so most of Downtown San Diego had to be power washed with bleach to kill the disease, which was literally all over the place. Both the flu and hepatitis A outbreaks have been deadly. 

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Naturally, as a fan of The Walking Dead, I see these stories on the news and I can’t help but wonder how it is that more diseases aren’t killing people on The Walking Dead. Simon kidnapped the spare Dr. Carson and offered a crate of aspirin as a trade off. But what happens when the aspirin runs out? Disease spreads through close contact with others, and poor sanitation, after all. I’m pretty sure none of the characters are washing their hands regularly, let alone after relieving themselves in bushes. 

The flu is a seasonal disease and it stands to reason that it would flare up each year and hit the communities hard. And when it comes to sanitation issues, nothing screams bad hygiene better than the Scavengers and their junkyard abode.

So far, the various communities within the world of The Walking Dead have managed to stay relatively healthy, with their biggest threats being Walkers and being attacked by other communities. But what happens when the next big disease comes through? Will they manage to fight it off, or is it possible that an outbreak could be more devastating than All Out War?