Walking Dead Waterborne Disease Hypothesis

by on 02/29/2012

waterborne disease hypothesis - Walking Dead Waterborne Disease Hypothesis

The hypothesis is that the zombie disease that causes the apocalypse in The Walking Dead has been, or is, a waterborne disease. Meaning, you can catch it by drinking or coming into contact with contaminated water. I say this as a licensed professional water resources engineer and a zombie lover–I have graduate school behind this hypothesis! If this is true, it would be a big deal. Here is my evidence regarding the waterborne disease.

1. Right before the scene where Sophia ran away, remember Shane looking at the bottled water? That was just to set up that everyone has been drinking bottled water.

2. Zombie down the well. This seemed like gratuitous gore-fest. It was setting up the wells on the farm for contamination. Okay, the gore was fun too.

3. The scene where Shane washes Sophia’s mom’s arm. Seemed like some sweet weird gesture for Shane’s character development but really this was the start of her potentially getting infected. I think that you get sick if you have an open wound that comes in contact with contaminated water.

4. Hershel’s daughter’s recent weirdness/suicide behaviors. She was doing the dishes (I think) when she fainted. I think the onset of the disease is depression potentially?? I am the least sure about this one but she sure doesn’t look healthy. It will be ironic if she dies now since she just decided to live…

5. Last night’s episode where Shane said something about the guards not having any bites. Last night’s episode was the biggest hint. They were at the Department of Public Works. All of the fences were sealed–how did the disease get in?? Somehow the disease started at the place where drinking water is produced. That is also why the zombies were sealed in the room. The zombies all looked like workers at the Department of Public Works.

6. All of this is setting up for a big outbreak at the farm where they will have to finally leave because the water is contaminated and some will get infected based on how much water they drank or came into contact with.

If it is waterborne, where did it come from? Will be interesting to see. This may also relate to the secret whispered at the CDC last season. My hypothesis. What do you think? Wanted to weigh it against what some other zombie experts thought.

The following hypothesis was brought to us by one of our members, Hydroperez, and so we saw fit we share it.

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  • vILLan
    02/29/2012 at 6:28 pm

    TheILLness here; i still think this theory is a crock of shit. a few coincidences that might point to waterborne but only coincidences imo. not concrete evidence by any stretch of the imagination. im still holding out that the Jenner whisper was that everybody reanimates regardless of COD. i also agree with w/e member (SVT maybe?) who said they were confused as to why everyone is trying to figure out the cause when thats clearly not the important part of the series. especially when they havent even talked about the cause in the comic yet.


    • The Fall Guy
      03/02/2012 at 11:11 pm

      vILLan, this guy posted a theroy, not something he was trying to sell as hard fact, there is a big difference.

      If everyone reanimated, Rick would have shot those two guys in the bar in the head to make sure they didn’t reanimiate.  He didn’t.

      I think the water contamination theroy has a lot of merit, only in so far as they had the unbitten walkers in the public works, which had been sealed off.  Interesting though that the two guards were outside and the others all appeared to be locked inside.  Also, neither of the guards were bitten, which seems strange because that would mean they would have had to have turned at the same time, because otherwise one of them would have been shot or chewed.  Maybe it was the water?

      Either way, the facf that neither of them had been bitten, and both had their guns still holstered on them, is chilling.  It means whatever got them, they didn’t see coming.


      • JustSayin
        03/03/2012 at 3:51 am

        Actually he shot both of those guys in the head, the guy behind the bar in his first draw, you see his brains hit the wall behind him. And after a gut shot to the fat one, he walks up and fires another shot point blank, that episode ends and when the next one starts you see blood flowing from where the mans head is, its off camera but the blood is obviously coming from a head wound.


  • Loco
    03/03/2012 at 6:05 pm

    So the first thing Ric does after being in a coma was get infected from drinking from the bathroom sink and then Ric infects Morgan and his son when they showered together? Pretty crazy if the whole water supply is contaminated.


  • Webbieisamazing
    03/08/2012 at 11:12 pm

    @JustSayin has a great point, since Jenner told Rick something he never told anyone else…might be the reason Rick shot both in the Head, the living easily die from a chest shot, but if Rick new they’d reanimate, he made sure head shots were taken.


  • 03/10/2012 at 1:58 am

    i very seriously doubt it unless they’re proposing an immunity setup.  cuz if one well is contaminated, they all are, and Herschel’s entire family has been drinking out of it since day 1.  who knows how long the walker’s been in the well.  not to mention Rick’s group has been drinking out of them the whole time too.  and if Jenner told Rick it was in the water he’d have been more careful to make sure his wife and son don’t drink contaminated water.  unless he hates them as much as we do.  which i doubt.


  • Farnsworth Dye
    03/13/2012 at 4:46 pm

    Hey, the Water theory works just as good as it being an air born virus.  I think Jenner told Rick that everyone of the population is infected. (without getting BIT).


  • D Pascoe 77
    03/16/2012 at 12:44 am

    This is a subject Kirkman has refused to touch in the book but the writers in the show may push him into exploring that on the show. Maybe in like season 5…


  • AFRO
    03/18/2012 at 10:06 am

    The waterborne theory is quite a good theory in my opinion.  My take on it is that the CDC and the whole pharmaceutical complex were experimenting with a vaccine that could be administered to the entire population via the water supply, but the vaccine had a flaw.  If the vaccine was supplied in the water, the cities would be the most affected.  That is perhaps the reason why the farm has been spared, they drink and use water from their well which means that it is not connected to the water system.  The reason I mention the flaw is because I base my theory, or whatever you want to call it, on Dengue fever.  This disease has two possible processes:  If one becomes infected for the first time it resembles a strong flu and after some days of terrible pain the person usually heals, but if the person becomes infected again by a DIFFERENT strain this usually results in death.  Ok, so here is where I tie this to the series, in the water supply the vaccine was composed of X strains and that is all good, like most vaccines, as long as that person never encounters another kind of strain.  Viruses being the ubiquitous and constantly mutating parasites could easily infect the already exposed person with new strains and therefore cause an even worse disease. In the series the different strain works like a trigger and leads to the worst disease, this being zombie. Perhaps the guilt is what made the scientist work so hard to find the cure.  
    This is just a simple theory and of course this theory could easily become obsolete. 


  • Ralphrepo_01
    03/19/2012 at 3:33 am

    Zombies cannot exist because there is no possible way for their muscles to continue to contract given our current understanding of physiology and human locomotion (all of which is reliant on an intact cardiopulmonary and digestive system; those body parts aren’t just there for looks). To continue on the epidemiology “what if” trail, IMHO seems to be a rather moot exercise. Just sit back and enjoy the zombiefest without thinking too much about it. 


  • Conquerall
    03/20/2012 at 9:02 pm

    If the CDC infected everyone, how come those two men at the town bar didn’t turn into zombies after Rick had shot them?


    • Reaves
      03/21/2012 at 5:39 am

      Rick shot both of them in the head.  One of them with the initial shot, and then he shot the fat one in the head after he killed him.  That was to make sure he didn’t come back as a zombie.


  • j_scheffs
    03/28/2012 at 12:20 pm

    I think its airborne. Everyone has the gene and it sits dormant in the system until the moment of death. The fever from the bite is a simple blood infection idea. like TDog cutting his arm in season 2 episode 1. He got a nasty fever and would have died if he didnt get treatment. When someone gets bit, thier blood gets infected by the nasty deteriorated zombie teeth. This sends the person into a fever that burns them out, then the dormant airborne infection is activated and brings them back.

    This may not be a main point for the series, but its still an interesting concept to try and figure out. I like the flashbacks they do to show life before, i hope they keep doing it to show more and more of how stuff went down.


  • Zebra
    04/03/2012 at 3:37 pm

    I think there are only three possible scenarios for the rise of a zombie apocalypse..
    1. Either a man-made or mother nature made combo disease like Mad-cow & H1N1, or Rabies & Bird-flu, or Meningitis & Spanish-flu, etc…  something that unhinges the brain and causes violent episodes with the ability to spread fast without killing the host/carrier…

    2. A disease that was started by either heaven or hell, Devil or God, religious apocalypse…

    3. An alien weapon to kill off our population and will to fight while leaving our resources available to them with little damage..  they then can loot, repopulate, or terraform at will…


  • kenny
    07/07/2012 at 9:37 pm

    well look at the bath salts, the man who took bath salts that was all over the news in real life! he ate a human being? Okay so whoever put this drug out knew that it did this for the people who knew about it could purchase it legally C’mon haha too good to be true.

    Muscles do contract if they didn’t they couldn’t be torn down and built back up its simple,
    look in the video game dead island the disease was injection “SHOTS” so apparently they are immune to this disease only have mild symptoms of it… last episode Ricks says “we are infected” okay it can be waterborne but they could like i said also be by injection … it goes either way.


  • ityler15
    12/03/2012 at 9:12 pm

    Actually, this could happen, now as depicted in stories and movies, but diseases, such as Mad Cow/CJD (most likely if this does happen), could mutate, make people revert to basically animalistic behavior, including cannibalism.


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