Cannibals are not a thing of the past–they are still out there, but the cause of their extreme violence is no longer a mystery.

On May 26th, a man in Miami was found eating another man’s face. He was shot by police and the victim was taken to the hospital where he was described as "barely recognizable."

Then came the "bloody 27th," a man stabbed himself 50 times and threw bits of his own intestines at police. Also on the 27th, a man in Chicago attacked a woman and attempted to bite off her cheek. On the bloody 27th as well, a contractor was arrested after he allegedly attempted to gnaw the arms off two of Lowe’s employees in Georgia.

In California on the 29th, a man bit another man’s nose off during a fight. On may 26th, a man was arrested in Florida for biting the lips off a kitten, and a drunk anesthesiologist cracked open his head in a police car and spit blood at the officers arresting him.

On May 31, a Maryland college student confessed that he killed a man, then ate his heart and portions of his brain.

In the latest attack, June 2nd, a diner in a restaurant on Staten Island attempted to eat off the ear of another patron.

So what does all this mean? A concerned Centers for Disease Control has issued an official statement to the effect that it does not know of any virus that would cause this behavior. Agency spokesman David Daigle told the Huffington Post that "CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead (or one that would present zombie-like symptoms)." However, it now appears that at least one of the individuals involved in the attacks may have been high on a street drug known as ‘bath salts‘ that causes psychotic episodes.

However, the "copycat effect" (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show) is a well-known aspect of social behavior, and it may be that the combination of so much zombie lore entering the culture at a time of general stress, coupled with the broad dissemination of the horrifying Miami story, led to the wave of attacks.

Correction: A previous statement in this story to the effect that a woman had killed and dismembered her child on May 27 was incorrect. The incident took place in 2009.

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