‘CDC Zombie Task Force’ T-Shirts On Sale

Yes, the whole zombie thing is definitely over the top today. As NPR’s Matt Thompson points out on Twitter, The Huffington Post’s zombie section is “disturbingly elaborate. They actually produced all those articles.”

It’s a challenge to portray zombie madness as pro-social, but in one exceptional case, it is: The CDC has undertaken a clever campaign to use zombies as a vehicle for getting people to prepare for emergencies (whether zombie-related or otherwise.) And the ploy does seem to work for getting people’s attention, as we found when Rachel posted about zombie apocalypse preparedness. Once the CDC has people listening, it can give them pointers about stockpiling food, water and other supplies.

Now the CDC Foundation, whose motto is “Helping CDC do more, faster” is taking the clever zombie campaign to the next step: $12 T-shirts. They say “CDC” on the front and “Zombie Task Force” as well as “Don’t be a zombie, be prepared” on the back. The perfect gift for loved ones obsessed with public health emergencies — and maybe I should order one for Rachel, our official zombie correspondent?

CDC Warning On Zombie Apocalypse — Really

Zombie Preparedness 101, courtesy the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not known for its comic hijinks. Indeed, the agency’s data and disease reports are typically serious, straight-forward and well, dull.

So imagine the buzz in public health circles when the CDC issued something kind of funny: an advisory on a potential zombie attack (and other emergencies) that was so inundated upon its release Wednesday that the site crashed, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Well, “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse” is back up again, and here’s a taste:

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency…

In movies, shows, and literature, zombies are often depicted as being created by an infectious virus, which is passed on via bites and contact with bodily fluids. Harvard psychiatrist Steven Schoolman wrote a (fictional) medical paper on the zombies presented in Night of the Living Dead and refers to the condition as Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome caused by an infectious agent…

The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen. In such a scenario zombies would take over entire countries, roaming city streets eating anything living that got in their way. The proliferation of this idea has led many people to wonder “How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?”

Well, we’re here to answer that question for you, and hopefully share a few tips about preparing for real emergencies too!

So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.

The WSJ reports:

Zombie preparedness is the brainchild, so to speak, of communications staff who noticed that traffic took off when zombies were mentioned during one of its Twitter sessions on Japan and radiation, says Dave Daigle, a CDC spokesperson who led the new campaign.