In the spirit of the season, let us say thanks to Wikipedia for this comprehensive list of fictional diseases.

This article is a list of fictional diseases — nonexistent, named medical conditions which appear in fiction where they have a major plot or thematic importance. They may be fictional psychological disorders, magical, from mythological or fantasy settings, have evolved naturally, been engineered artificially (most often created as biological weapons), or be any illness that came forth from the (ab)use of technology.

It’s remarkable how many of these are variants on biological-zombie tropes. I particularly liked how Max Brooks set up the pathogen at the heart of his two zombie books, which the wiki article summarizes nicely:

Upon infection, the victim succumbs to bouts of high fevers, hallucinations, headaches, and vomiting spasms, before being officially declared dead a few hours later as the virus replicates through the brain. Approximately twenty-two hours later, the victim’s corpse reanimates as a zombie.

And no, as of this writing I haven’t seen Contagion yet, or the Walking Dead season finale.

(link via BoingBoing)