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Hazardous materials tweet sparks fear of zombie takeover

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If there’s one thing we learned from horror movies like 28 Days Later and Contagion, it’s that a relatively minor incident can cause a global pandemic.

A tweet sent out by the emergency alert system at the University of Illinois sparked such concern on Twitter.

“Hazardous materials released at Institute for Genomic Biology. Escape area if safe to do so. Otherwise seek shelter,” read the tweet, sent at 10:16 pm Central Time Monday.

The institute is home to a number of research programs, such as biocomplexity, host-microbe systems, and regenerative biology & tissue engineering. It’s not quite clear what research area the hazardous materials relate to.

The tweet caused some of the Twitter community grave concern.

“Uh oh, zombies?” a worried Ed Glaser wrote.

Zombies were not the only thing Benias Fünke was worried about: “Does this mean zombies? Pig men? I'm about to graduate, I'm too old for this shit.”

Paul Stanton’s imagination ran a little wilder: “Hulk? Jurassic Park? Spiderman?”

The alert received a few critical responses as well.

“@IlliniAlert Is it true that the hazard is contained in the building? If so, adjust the warning, this is a horrible use of your system,” Kelli Trei noted.

“[T]his wasn't @IlliniAlert being useful, someone else knew what was up,” Seth Baker tweeted.

It took the Illini-Alert feed almost an hour to assure its more than 1,000 followers that the spill was contained within the building—well after others tweeted about the containment. Another 28 minutes passed before it explained that the building was safely evacuated.

The institute reopened Tuesday.

However, it may behoove those inside to be vigilant for sudden guttural groans, violent coughing, and complete strangers reaching in with outstretched arms, especially in light of gory story of a naked man chewing on the face of a victim in Miami.

Photo by Georgia National Guard