I have had a severe case of hay fever for the past week or so. It has really taken over my life. I am allergic to many things, one of them being, well, hay. Oddly fitting, I know. Living on a farm, there must be some precautions set in place that I like to ignore because I’m an idiot. During this time of sneezing, coughing, and slowly dying, I wondered about paranormal diseases. Do they even exist?
Well, thanks to media and apocalyptic fears, the answer is a definite yes. Paranormal diseases do exist in modern media, and they are more common with each variation of the paranormal creature. You see this with zombies in modern media as production companies and writers try to go as realistic as possible to get a scarier outcome for the viewer.
This has also been seen with alien diseases. Aliens are considered paranormal for some unearthly reason as they are considered “otherworldly”. But you may ask, what are other diseases in the paranormal world that fill the requirement for a disease? Well, it is far more common than you think, and this list of creatures will show the insight of how much disease influences the paranormal.
Getting zombies out of the way
Seriously, let’s just get this one done. Zombies are a form of the undead that go after either the brain or the flesh of their victim. Thank to Zombiepedia, there is a list of variety with zombies. Also, there is a Wiki for zombies, and I am all for it. Each example in media that they show have some form of infection or disease that starts the zombie curse.
In real life, there are many creatures that can be affected by zombie-like diseases. From the CDC, the chronic wasting disease is a prion disease in deer, elk, and the like. It can cause stumbling, can affect neurons, and has no cure. There is also Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, a fungus that affects ants and essentially takes of the body of the ant to do its bidding. Rabies is another popular version of zombie infection, although that is more of fantastical thinking.
With zombies, there is always an infection, except in those being controlled by a witch or necromancer. This isn’t as common, though. Most of the fear you have with zombies is with the infection that they bring. Also, the pain from a zombie bite. I bet that is rough to experience.
Alien diseases from actual aliens
This one is more common in sci-fi because, well, aliens. From the movie Life to The Andromeda Strain, diseases in the paranormal realm can come from out of this world. This also becomes prevalent with zombies as well in a way. Movies like The Host and Dreamcatchers show an alien or alien infection taking over humans.
While this isn’t as grand as the zombie-infection subgenre, it is still one to look at because it shows the unknown as being alien. As much as we love our UFOs, an alien infection would be just as terrifying. It would be more so, especially when they hitch a ride on our equipment because it is there. This is a good representation of foreign diseases finding themselves in hosts that have no immunity to them.
Looking at you, smallpox.
I’m not sure if anyone has ever thought about how vampires are made, so we will look at a couple of examples to see how vampires are made. You may not like the first example, but it does give a good insight into how these undead bloodsuckers are made. Twilight does show a good representation of how vampires are made, no matter how ridiculous it is. An infection from the donor’s body into the new host. It is simple, effective, and doesn’t need any more context.
The Lost Boys does something similar with a bottle of blood. There is more to it, like the bonding with a head vampire, but we will ignore that as it isn’t a major part of a disease. Bram Stoker’s Dracula pretty much does the same. Another media output is that of True Blood. They have a near ritual of how vampires are created, which infection is only a part of it. This sort of ruins the fear they could bring with turning a human, but it still exists so it goes here.
Vampires as a whole is about infection. It is also prion-like how vampire blood works. If it gets into your bloodstream, forget about going back. You’re going to vamp out and start looking for a tasty meal, which may be your friends or a local deer population.
Another “insert-bite-here” creature is that of the were-monsters. Werewolves are big with this one as much as vampires are. As far as paranormal diseases go, being bitten by something and having a forced change is standard. I mean, most on this list is just being bitten by a paranormal creature and bam. You’re now craving something human.
There are uncommon creatures of the were-community, but they are all the same in some way. It takes a bite. The best adaptation you’ll ever see of this is Werewolf in London. An oldie, but a goodie. There is a bite, a transformation, and most of it is not consensual. Were-creatures have been around for a few thousand years, so the fear isn’t new.
No ghosts were harmed in the making of paranormal diseases
There is talk of possession, ghosts taking over people’s bodies, etc. This does occur, but it is not considered a reputable disease for the paranormal. As much as you would like it to be, it isn’t. Of course, you can argue that any insert of a foreign body into the host could be a disease, I would take that argument.
Like with Aliens, a paranormal insertion of a foreign mass into a host. This is not an infection, but rather a surrogate type of situation. It isn’t a disease. It is a hassle, and it is deadly, though. Additionally, it doesn’t require an infection to occur, nor does it require a disease of any type. I will argue this to my core.
Ghosts are the same way. If you feel like one followed you home, you aren’t infected. In fact, you just made a new and possibly unwanted friend. At this point, you must treat it like an infection, but it isn’t a disease of any kind.
Conclusion of the paranormal diseases
Whether you wanted to know or not, diseases in the paranormal are necessary to make the human-paranormal creation a thing. As much as you may like the magic of the paranormal, the biological interface of turning a person into a monster is necessary in the paranormal world. This is not only for the cultural fear that it brings, but also to keep people from going out an seeking the paranormal. Of course, we all do that anyways.
There are probably other diseases that go into the paranormal realm, but they aren’t as prevalent as these. Diseases exist everywhere and most can be rendered by safety precautions like washing your hands, staying away from unfamiliar wildlife, and not forgetting to wear a respiratory mask while moving hay.
What are your thoughts on paranormal diseases? Could there be a time where humans could figure out the basis of one seen in media? Or is it all irrelevant and it could never occur?