WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Centers for Disease Control blog post mentioning a "zombie apocalypse" as a lighthearted way to get Americans to read about preparing for the hurricane season drove so much traffic that it crashed the website, the center said on Thursday.
The Zombie Apocalypse campaign is a social media effort by the CDC's Public Health and Preparedness center to spread the word about preparing for the June 1 start of hurricane season.
"There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for," the blog post starts innocently enough. "Take a zombie apocalypse for example ... You may laugh now, but when it happens you'll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency."
The timing of the blog was just days before the prediction of the May 21 "Judgment Day" by an evangelical broadcaster.
"If you prepare for the zombie apocalypse, you'll be prepared for all hazards," CDC spokesman Dave Daigle told Reuters over the phone on Thursday.
The word zombie comes from voodoo practice of spirit possession where "zombies" are stripped of consciousness.
Zombies became popular culture references after the success of George Romero's 1968 horror film "Night of the Living Dead" where flesh-eating zombies roam the eastern seaboard in the aftermath of radioactive contamination.
Daigle said that a typical CDC blog post might get between 1,000 and 3,000 hits. The most traffic on record had been a post that saw around 10,000 visits.
By the end of Wednesday, with servers down, the page had 60,000. By Thursday, it was a trending topic on Twitter.
The campaign was designed to reach a young, media-savvy demographic that the CDC had not been able to capture before, Daigle said.
Increased traffic did not effect the main CDC website.
The website is: http://emergency.cdc.gov/socialmedia/zombies_blog.asp
(Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Greg McCune)