If you’ve seen one zombie movie, you’ve seen them all. Inevitably, a bunch of people slip through the cascading doom and manage to hole up in some confined area (farmhouse, shopping mall, island, take your pick). Zombies manage to break into said confined area or survivors are forced to venture outside. Most of them die. A couple survive, which couple usually includes a hot girl.

But what if you could watch a zombie outbreak from a macro scale? Where would it hit first? Who would survive? We took these questions and more and, using current immigration, population density, climate, and agriculture data, came up with this infographic. Spoiler: avoid Southern California like the, well, plague!
zombie pandemic, zombie outbreak

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About the Author: Marcus Varner writes articles and blogs for Classes and Careers and numerous other sites. He earned a BA in English and a MBA in Marketing from Brigham Young University. He loves trivia, especially regarding comics, movies, books, science, and history.

46 comments on “Zombie Epidemic Infographic

  • Awful. Why are you assuming that the virus would come from South America?

    You are the ones that love playing with viruses and biological.

    AH1N1 came from Mexico (that’s North America). An outbreak like that would definitely come from the US.

  • very creative way to spread racism.. immigrants really? i guess they also were illegal.. and btw “If you’ve seen one zombie movie, you’ve seen them all” of course not.. you put to shame all zombie loving geeks in the world. failed.

  • As a person of color, I’m not really a fan of racism. I simply needed to pick a way for the virus to enter the U.S. So I went with a scenario that was similar to that found in the excellent World War Z by Max Brooks (i.e. the virus starts in a foreign country and is carried into the U.S.). As Latin American immigrants (legal or otherwise) present the single largest group of immigrants into the U.S., they offered the perfect nightmare scenario for an outbreak. This is but one version of a situation that could unfold in an infinite number of ways. So, sorry, your charges of racism are ill-founded and certainly untrue. Failed indeed.

  • No particular offense was meant toward anyone of Latin American origin. I simply needed to pick a way for the virus to enter the U.S. So I went with a scenario that was similar to that found in the excellent World War Z by Max Brooks (i.e. the virus starts in a foreign country and is carried into the U.S.). As Latin American immigrants (legal or otherwise) present the single largest group of immigrants into the U.S., they offered the perfect nightmare scenario for an outbreak. This is but one version of a situation that could unfold in an infinite number of ways. Honestly, I love Latin America and the people there.

  • Hi. I’m 15 and i decided that a couple of the people who commented need to deeply think about this before criticizing it.

    I kind of agree with this hypothesis.
    The virus could come from areas south of the United States because, not to offend anyone at all lol, but there is less technology and medical research down there as well as other parts of the world; this is not negating the possibility that the US might’ve found this virus somewhere else in the world and decided to bring it back and research it. However, BSL-4 labs are extremely cautious with what they’re researching, so this is less likely. South of the US is also either very tropical or very hot (like Florida, which is why Florida epically failed) with many places to fester, which is why it is more likely that the virus would come from South of the border. Also, like what was said, it would b easier for those who r infected or just carriers to immigrate into the US rather than some virus from across the globe. Everything else would just play out.

    Sorry for my ranting but i’ve just been really bored all day haha. I hope i didnt hurt anyonez feelingz. Yell at me if you would like ^^

  • Aw man. I’d rather stick it out in West Virginia surrounded by zombies than go to Montana. I am curious though how you figured this out. I understand the immigrant scenario, but after that step is it carried on by population?

    I think if everyone rushes to Montana, there’s bound to be an outbreak there as well. Bottom line, go to Canada, folks. Zombies can’t chase you if they’re frozen solid!

  • undeadism, really?
    I mean, of course you’d call the living dead a “plague” or an “epidemic”. Just what I’d expect from some high & mighty holier-than-though vivicant.

  • If you’re basing this off Max Brooks’ World War Z then I guess Canada would be a viable choice when the zombies freeze and you can just cut their head off… But I suppose you’re looking for comfort and not cold weather, lol.

  • Yes, cold is good. Just make sure you take enough food with you (see World War Z). Starving humans are just as bad as zombies.

  • Canada is a viable place of refuge if you take enough food, as illustrated in WWZ. Otherwise, you just have a bunch of stupid, starving suburbanites stuck in the woods. As bad as or worse than zombies, I’d say.

  • Dude! I love this!! Have you read Max Brooks Zombie Survival Guide book? I’ve already started preparing for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. ^_^

  • If we’ve learned anything from the SciFi network…or SyFy, if you prefer, it’s that evil megacorporations make their experimental drugs in foreign countries. So, it makes sense that the infection would enter the country through high immigration and tourism centers. However, that means there should be higher initial concentrations in New York and Miami. Winter vacationers should spread the virus through the mountain ski areas (I can picture the zombie boarders now).

    I’d like to see this extrapolated to a global scale. I mean, no one vacations in sub-Saharan Africa, right. So, that might be safe.

  • The zombie concept is from Jamaica. For that reason, it is suitable that initially it would come from southern states.

  • brooks’ first outbreak was in Asia (or so it would appear), so if you wanted to follow his example the outbreaks would’ve come from the people who travels abroad and return… you should reread WWZ, since politicians also tried to cover up their first outbreaks so the virus could have possibly started anywhere within the U.S. and about the racism part, you probably didn’t mean but it certainly appears like that.

  • Dude, enough about the racism already. I’m freaking brown and I grew up in freaking East LA. When you read WWZ, did you think Max Brooks was racist against Chinese people because the plague started in China? Is The Stand racist against Americans because the plague starts in the States? Numerous other zombie plagues have started in Africa- does that mean the creators of those scenarios hate Africans? Give it rest.

    And about WWZ, well do I remember the negligence and cover-ups of the gov’t. However, I never said I wanted to mirror Brooks’ scenario exactly. How useless would that be?

  • As both a GIS professional, and a, er, ‘zombiphile’ (I need to find a better term) I’m interested in your methodology for modeling the outbreak. Was this a set of raster analyses? A cellular-automata operation?

    @Chris Sanner: “Vivicant,” heheh. Yoinked! I suppose the term “breathers” is a little too slangy for polite conversation.


  • ohn Reply:
    June 3rd, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Mexico is central america


  • This map is actually very impressive for the situation that was given. Speaking as an Oregonian I actually kind of figured that outside of I-5 you’d be rather safe. The area is very diverse, expansive, and towns are at best remote enough that you wouldn’t catch much flak from Zeke.
    Now if this occurred as an outbreak from the east coast one could generally consider most western states safe if the problem could be contained to the major cities. I’d imagine that the Rockies would act as a great natural deterrent.

  • Its painfully obvious whoever did this is form the north. You seriously underestimate how much fire power we in the south have acquired over the years and the rural areas our states have. enjoy dieing in a huge outbreak in a city filled with millions of people.

  • why are Mexicans so worried about racism and view this as a shot? I mean it does make sense. STOP BEING SO SENSITIVE! that’s whats wrong with the world today people are so sensitive. I thought it was very creative and well thought out.

  • you guys do realize that Canada isn’t always cold right? We have winter and summer just like you guys. except maybe in like nunavut, I bet its f***ing cold there.

  • The problem is that he just considered one way for it. It seemed that he is racist. Places such as New York, Florida or Chicago should be considered for a zombie outbreak based on an inmigration vector since those places are gateways too

  • Actually, they do come through Chicago and New York (being large immigrant gateways), but the winter keeps the virus contained until the spring. As far as the Mexico/racism thing goes, I believe I have already addressed that.

  • Nice graphic overall! Perfect for an RPG gaming group, fan-fic, or something similar.

    Racisim blah blah blah whatever.

  • It should be noted there are two ways that a zombie outbreak could get global, to an apocalyptic level. Either the zombies are beastly, similar to “28 Days Later”, where they just overpower with speed and surprise. In this case, the government would make a boundary. This model really depends on where the outbreak occurs.

    The other way is that the disease is slow to appear. In this case, the disease could get spread out much farther than a “patient 0”. That model is quite unpredictable but would be the reason why zombies could get across oceans. If a bitten person becomes a zombie instantly, then it’s pretty easy to discriminate.

    So, you have to specify where patient O is, how long a transformation from human to zombie takes, and how fast the zombies are (also, how long till zombies die from not eating BRAINS). And frankly, most combinations result in small, contained outbreaks. But if there are fast zombies with a long transition period we are all screwed.

    Most zombie guides (and the like) make assumptions on these things, but last time I checked we haven’t had zombies before, so that’s silly. And dogs can’t look up.

  • Just stumbled across this and thought it was a nice map. It is a story. I like what Morgan Freeman said about racism: ‘Racism will continue to persist until we stop talking about racism.’

    As far as the outbreak goes, there are dozens of scenarios and stories, raging from a virus set off by middle eastern terrorists all across the world, to a strain of virus that develops naturally in Africa. The point is, that he took time to create a storyline and put some passion behind it. There are dozens of authors and many more stories and books about the rise of zombies, some which are politically correct, some that are not. And if you are a true Romero fan, then you know that all of his movies have a social commentary to them.

    I applaud the map and potential story and would love to see more.

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