Diseased "zombie pigeons" such as this one have been seen roaming Moscow in recent days. (Sources: Steven Wolf, Joseph Baranowski)
The resurgence of the zombie genre over the past decade has made people prepare for the incredibly unlikely zombie apocalypse as though it were possibly a real thing. Furthermore, there have been movies, television series, and video games that have fleshed out the idea of a zombie apocalypse enough that they make such scenarios and preparation plausible. Now, we may in fact be starting to see some vindication for these zombie lovers, just not in the way they expect it: A zombie epidemic has spread throughout Moscow and other parts of Russia. However, they are not human zombies, but zombie pigeons.
Russians have noticed the increasingly erratic behavior of pigeons in the city. Reports indicate the pigeons acting listless, and wandering aimlessly onto the road, before dying or getting hit by a car (which may in turn cause a few accidents). The pigeons started acting in this zombie manner only a few weeks ago, as the summer went into full gear in Russia. The zombie pigeons are dying off in great numbers, consequently.
Inadvertently raising the stakes were Russian authorities, who sought to find out what was killing all the birds. In an announcement on Wednesday, the Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection Service, which handles cases like this throughout Russia, claimed the disease making the zombie pigeons is the so-called "Newcastle disease," which authorities claimed could be transmitted to humans. Authorities did not, however, point out that while many of the symptoms the zombie pigeons carry match that of the Newcastle disease, those symptoms do not pass on to humans when they are infected (they only receive flu-like symptoms). So therefore, the threat of these pigeons are limited to only to car drivers and children.
Moscow authorities took things a step back yesterday, when they announced that it was not Newcastle disease, but a form of salmonella that is making the zombie pigeons. Furthermore, said form of salmonella is harmless to humans. Authorities advised to just keep away from the zombie pigeons, and that any dead pigeons be handled with care and not near children. Some sources indicate the uptick in pigeon deaths has less to do with them being zombies and more to do with the nature of the pigeons' life cycle, with mass die-offs occuring after breeding season (which ends in late June) on a regular basis due to the young pigeons being unable to fight off disease.
So, there is indeed a zombie epidemic in place, but it's really nothing to worry about. If the epidemic was anything like "The Birds" or "Birdemic," on the other hand, then we would have issues.