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CDC keeps eye on zombie disease

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Zombies will rise in three days. The ones that will come knocking on your door this Halloween will only look the part.

But there are real diseases that cause people to take on the horror movie characteristics. The medical community is keeping a close watch on them.

"These legends and these stories had to have come from somewhere so there actually is a whole science of people looking back, where would this idea have come from," Christopher Ziebell, M.D. said.

Dr. Christopher Ziebell, director of the Emergency Medical Department at University Medical Center Brackenridge says there are several diseases that cause patients to exhibit zombie-like behavior.

One is the human equivalent of mad cow disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

"At first it causes hyper-agitation, psychiatric type symptoms but eventually it becomes more like Alzheimer's to where they become more and more forgetful and less and less able to interact," Ziebell said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the United States has reported between 279 and 352 cases a year.

Another disease is called Triposomiasis. It's transmitted by an African fly. The disease is also known as the sleeping sickness.

"It makes people lose the ability to function to where you can no longer keep them awake," Ziebell said.

It's not unheard of for rare diseases here in the U.S. to make their way into Austin. Ziebell cites last year's F1 race.

"Much to our surprise the first three patients we saw had Malaria," Ziebell said. "These were crew members of the race crews. The week before they were here in Austin they were in Abu Dhabi and when they were in Abu Dhabi they got bit by a mosquito that transmitted Malaria."

They successfully treated the malaria and will be better prepared at the upcoming event on November 16.

Should a zombie apocalypse hit, "We're ready. If indeed the zombies break in Brackenridge is ready and we will take care of all of your needs and your injuries we have a full security force here ready to shoot the zombies so we're good to go," Ziebell said.

CDC Zombie Pandemic Warning: http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm

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