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CDC takes a cue from Twitter and promotes zombie -- and hurricane and earthquake -- preparedness

May 20, 2011 | 12:34 pm

Zombie
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency tasked with preventing pandemics and pushing flu shots, is now preparing the living for a zombie apocalypse.

You heard right. In a Monday blog post, the normally staid agency has put together a straight-faced list of recommendations on how to survive a massive invasion of the flesh-eating undead.

"In such a scenario zombies would take over entire countries, roaming city streets eating anything living that got in their way," the post said. "So what do you need to do before zombies ... or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen?"

Dave Daigle, a CDC spokesman and self-described member of the Zombie Task Force, said the idea for the post arose during a brainstorming session on how to interest Americans in the agency's annual campaign on hurricane preparedness.

"I worry we try the same thing every year and I didn't know how many people we were actually engaging," Daigle said. "Let's face it -- preparedness and public health are not sexy topics." Zombieblog_photo4

A coworker mentioned that following the earthquake in Japan, the CDC saw a big traffic spike on its Twitter account after someone tweeted the agency asking if radiation emissions could set off a zombie attack, Daigle said. That got him thinking.

"That phrase popped into my head: zombie preparedness," he said. He took the idea to the CDC's director of preparedness, Dr. Ali S. Khan, who gave a thumbs up to the project.

Daigle said a normal blog post gets maybe 1,000 hits in a week. By Wednesday, two days after the post went up, the zombie primer had racked up 30,000 hits. Then the server crashed.

Now with extra server space, the CDC is hoping that their tongue-in-cheek advice will inspire people to make even basic preparations for a real emergency. "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 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)," the post said.

Daigle said his colleagues at the CDC are delighted with the response so far. And they are already kicking around ideas for next year. Alien invasion, perhaps. Or vampires?

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--Shan Li

Photos, from top: Man leads a parade zombies in San Francisco in 2006 (credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid at laughingsquid.com); art from a hurricane preparedness campaign with the CDC (credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

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