Was Miami’s “Zombie” Attack a Case of Rabies?


You’ve probably heard by now about the case of the naked man “eating” the face of a victim on a busy Causeway in downtown Miami. If not, here (if you aren’t too squeamish) is the story.

Ronald Poppo, 65, is in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, just blocks from where he was attacked by 31-year-old Rudy Eugene in broad daylight Saturday on the Downtown off-ramp of Miami’s busy MacArthur Causeway.

Surveillance video shows the attack went on for around 18 minutes before help arrived.

“The guy was, like, tearing him to pieces with his mouth, so I told him, ‘Get off!'” said Larry Vega. “The guy just kept eating the other guy away, like, ripping his skin.”

But Vega said when the police officer yelled at Eugene to back away, the naked man merely raised his head “with pieces of flesh in his mouth,” growled, and began chewing again. The officer then shot Eugene once, and when Eugene continued to attack Poppo’s face, shot him multiple times until he was dead.

Investigators suspect that Eugene may have been suffering from a drug-induced psychosis, possibly prompted by an LSD-like new drug called “bath salts.”

Police and the media are always ready to blame drugs for any aberrant behavior, and sometimes, of course, they turn out to be right. But it seems that a lot of times “drugs” is officialdom’s “god of the gaps”: It’s another way of saying, this is bizarre behavior and we have no clue what caused it. On the chatboards, they have another theory: all the talk is about the coming “zombie apocalypse.”

As soon as I read these reports, I instantly thought “rabies.” I could be wrong, too, naturally, but my thought was inspired by a book I just read by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy, a husband and wife team (he’s a journalist, she’s a veterinarian) called Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus.

According to Wasik and Murphy, rabies and our deep-seated fear of it have been with humans since our garbage heaps first attracted dogs and wolves. It’s the perfect disease of nightmares. It changes the sociable and mild-mannered canine into a ferocious beast. Man’s best friend to our mortal enemy almost overnight. It does that to humans who are infected as well–to any mammal it invades in fact. And it performs its awful magic, not by infecting the bloodstream, but by working on the nerves. Once the virus is inside the body, it works its way very slowly, synapse by synapse, to the brain, where it quickly destroys all reason and reason-ability. That’s a by-product of its main objective, which is to take over the autonomic nervous system and make its host need to get it into another body, which is usually accomplished in the medium of saliva through biting that breaks the skin. (The mad animal’s foaming at the mouth is a byproduct of another of rabies’ worst symptoms, hydrophobia).

Wasik and Murphy also make a plausible case for rabies’ –or our fear of rabies’–authorship of many of human imaginations’ most frightening monsters, from the wolves of fairy tales to werewolves, vampires and (surprise, surpise!) zombies of today’s horror movies.

Out of curiosity, I Googled “rabies South Florida Dade County incidence 2012” and I found this article:

By Alexia Campbell, Sun Sentinel, May 11, 2012
Keep an eye out for angry raccoons, hostile dogs and dizzy bats. These are the culprits largely behind a multiplying number of suspected rabies exposures among people in Palm Beach County . The number of people vaccinated in the county for possible rabies so far this year has more than doubled from the same time a year ago, state records show. That’s 47 people in the first four months of 2012 compared to 19 during the same period last year. The number dwarfs those in neighboring counties, which report fewer than 10 so far. Broward County has two suspected cases so far. The 47 so far this year compares to 80 in Palm Beach County for all of 2011, according to the state Health Department.

Just something I think the Dade investigators should look into. If Eugene did in fact have rabies, Popper is clearly in danger of being infected as well.

The zombie apocalypse won’t come from space viruses. It will start with a racoon, bat or dog.

20 thoughts on “Was Miami’s “Zombie” Attack a Case of Rabies?

  1. Rabies is a bit of a stretch, as would be toxoplasmosis. However, in my humble opinion, I think it’s more likely to be the “bath salts.” I’m just sayin’

    • Rabies would be a stretch if there weren’t an epidemic of rabies and animal bites in South Florida. I think it’s at least as much of a possibility as bath salts. I’ve read about “unrestrainable behavior” with bath salts, but not animalistic behavior (biting and growling).

  2. I just googled Rudy Eugene rabies just to see if anyone else was thinking this. Especially since these assumptions of it being bath salts out of all the other drugs come out of someone’s asshole. Their is no evidence this drug was used. And pcp seems to be a better guess for drug. That shit makes people get naked and full of rage and super strong.

  3. There is evidence people can act like rabid dogs, when they have rabies..its rare but it can happen…in The New York times July 21st 1900….John F. Bloom in Chicago ran in the street and started barking and biting people for more than 15 minutes until he was finally subdued… if the Florida man didn’t even take Tylenol for headaches its doubtful he would have went to the doctor it can take between 2 days to 6 weeks to take affect..adding to the heat exhaustion from a 3 mile hike in 90+ degree weather it could have easily help spread the rabies its the only thing that makes sense… though its just a theory

  4. ” Police and the media are always ready to blame drugs for any aberrant behavior”..
    a simple speculation is not a crime.

  5. Pingback: Miami “Zombie”: “Bath Salts” or Rabies….or What? « Tragic Farce

  6. I also thought of rabies when I saw the surveillance video of the attack. Rudy was attacking like a rabid animal. Doesn’t rabies also cause you to burn up with fever which could explain his ripping off his clothes. Plus, hallucinations, delirium, super-strength, aggressiveness…all behaviors he exhibited.

  7. As a veterinary technician, i thought rabies when reading the story too. One of the effects of the disease is paralyisis of the throat which could explain why Eugene ‘growled’ at police when asked to stop. This needs to be seriously looked into. If it is a case of rabies the victim and the health care workers looking after him may need to recieve vaccines

    • Thanks to your comment, I’ve written to Miami forensics to find out if they are looking into this, if only to be safe rather than sorry. I’ll report back in the blog if I get a response.

  8. Pingback: Miami “Zombie”: Questions for Dade Investigators « Tragic Farce

  9. I was thinking the same thing about rabies! The animal like behavior is typical of someone who has been infected with rabies for at least three weeks. The symptoms, in fact, describe Rudy Eugene more than bath salts do. You drool at the mouth, body temperature runs high, hallucinate and become very aggressive. Rabies takes over the mind, and it spreads through biting so attacking once it has taken over the mind is common. It’s just rare for people today to let the rabies ever get to this stage.

  10. As of Right now there was no bath salts found , only undigested pills in his stomache that means the pills were never digested to make to his blood stream , Little trace amounts of Marijauna was found in his system. If you know anything about pot it certainly is not going to make you eat someones face. I believe this man was def. infected with rabies and will we ever know? Probley not… if you google rabies there are outbreaks of it happening around the globe. In humans , animals ect. Even horses and cows which is very rare, that only happened back in the 1700’s when cattle and horses were being infected. Also check out National Geographic they will explain about this mutated rabies virus. The CDC is also telling to get vaccinated and to make sure their are vaccinated. Rabies is on the rise and is going to become a pandemic

  11. So yes!!! Im very happy to see that Im not the only one who thinks this man was rabid. Wake up people you can deny it or face it but Rabies is on the rise! It is up to you to protect yourselves and your pets. Bath salts, LSD with all these other incidents they are using drugs as a cover up… they know whats going on…. and its the rabies flu hybrid. Again investigate for yourselves. Just type it in “Rabies Outbreak 2012” Also look up “New Mexico Rabies where 12 people was exposed to rabies and look how when you try to read on google it is “blacked out” And alot of newpaper sites have also Blacked the topic out. Theres soooo much I could tell you people just from me investigating it myself. Please be aware and again look into it.


  12. ever since i started to study about things like this, i have always had a feeling that something is going to happen soon, something bad, and these attacks about people walking around naked and being shot several times and eating other people, is just a sign that something is fast approaching, i mean think about a guy who has been said to be a pretty friendly guy, and who was liked by a lot of people,just up turns into some kind of animal and starts eating another guy, and then we got all of the people trying so right this off as some sort of drug involved incident, and while yeah drugs have cause unruly and violent behavior in people before, never has there been anything to this degree, i think anything is possible at this point whether someone is messing around with something they should not be, whether it be scientist trying to create a cure for something or maybe it is a much stronger form of rabies, due to something that these scientist or whoever or whatever, released something is happening, and people are either trying to deny the truth or they are trying to cover up somebodies fuck up, either way i think we should all consider preparing for what might happen.

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