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Old 02-03-2013, 12:09 AM
Atakapa Atakapa is offline
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Zombie Bite - Would Amputation Work?

It's a common trope in zombie films to have a character with a bite wound perform an emergency amputation of the limb, and have a chance at survival. However, when I was anesthetized for an operation I felt the numbness creep up my arm quite rapidly. Within 10 seconds, it had gone from my wrist to my shoulder, and I lost consciousness by the 20 second mark. Would a pathogen be carried at a similar speed? What about a glancing surface cut that contaminates small capillaries vs one that hits an artery or large vessel?
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:28 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Moved to IMHO from GQ.

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Old 02-03-2013, 12:38 AM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
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It depends on the nature of the fictional pathogen. Something that's carried by blood would be everywhere in seconds, so amputation is useless. Something that travels up the nerves to the brain on the other hand could potentially be stopped by amputation; I recall reading that rabies can be theoretically* stopped that way, if it's a limb that is bitten.

*The problem being that we have better methods these days, and even if we didn't, unless you know the person is infected you'd risk cutting off a limb for nothing.
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:08 AM
AaronX AaronX is offline
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Something that's carried by blood would be everywhere in seconds, so amputation is useless. Something that travels up the nerves to the brain on the other hand could potentially be stopped by amputation;
Is that true? Even snake venom doesn't work that fast, and it's in their interest for venom to work fast. Also, what can travel up the nerves, other than nerve signals?
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:28 AM
Mr. Kobayashi Mr. Kobayashi is offline
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In Max Brook's seminal zombie survival guide he says that immediate amputation of a bitten extremity has (IIRC) a 10% chance of success.

In the Walking Dead universe it's pretty effective in the TV series;
SPOILER:
Hershel is bitten in the ankle and has his leg immediately amputated by Rick with an axe...which he has been using as an weapon against zombies. Hmmm. Anyway, he passes out but survives.


In the Walking Dead video game you can choose to
SPOILER:
cut off your forearm after being bitten in the wrist. However some time has lapsed between the bite and amputation, so it doesn't work. The main difference though is that you don't black out as much if you amputate the arm. You also encounter a zombie with one arm so you're not the only one to try it and fail.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:43 AM
Atakapa Atakapa is offline
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Is that true? Even snake venom doesn't work that fast, and it's in their interest for venom to work fast. Also, what can travel up the nerves, other than nerve signals?
Perhaps it depends on the depth and location? I was injected directly in a large vein, so the anesthetics were carried through the body rapidly. Maybe a snake bite doesn't penetrate deep enough to immediately reach the larger vessels.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:16 AM
dogbutler dogbutler is offline
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In Day of The Dead, it seemed to work, or at least slow the spread(The amputee seemed in better health than most bitees when he was the buffet on the elevator.)
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:32 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is online now
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Need answers fast?

In Day of The Dead, it seemed to work, or at least slow the spread(The amputee seemed in better health than most bitees when he was the buffet on the elevator.)
The infection travels at the speed of plot. In Dawn of the Dead Roger lasts days after being bite; in Karen from Nigh of the Living Dead lasted only a few hours. Of course one was a child and the other a grown man.
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:28 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
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Is that true? Even snake venom doesn't work that fast, and it's in their interest for venom to work fast.
Well, I just threw out "seconds" as a rough estimate due to the fact that blood is moving. That said, venom also needs time to physically act on its target; I was speaking merely on how fast it would take contamination to spread throughout the bloodstream, not how fast it would take to actually work.

Quote:
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Also, what can travel up the nerves, other than nerve signals?
Microorganisms.

Last edited by Der Trihs; 02-03-2013 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:45 PM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is offline
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If it's a disease of the blood, then probably not.
If it's a disease that spreads through skin infection, you might have a chance.
If it's a curse, then you're screwed.
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:52 PM
KarlGrenze KarlGrenze is offline
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Microorganisms.
To give some specific examples: Toxins like tetanus and botulism travel through the nerves, that's how they cause paralysis.

The classic example of a virus that travels through the nerves is rabies virus.

A classic example of a bacteria that hitchhikes through the nerves is Listeria monocytogenes, or the cause of listeriosis.
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:50 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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In one of the Corto Maltese stories, a guy is bitten in the upper arm by a venomous snake, and, acting quickly, uses his pistol and blows away a big hunk of the muscle where he was bitten, I guess in the theory that the venom is still all pooled up there.

Would that work? It seems really wrong...
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