In this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, we learned that The Kingdom is under the same forced arrangement with The Saviors as the other settlements: They are required to give up 50 percent of everything they produce to Negan and his men. King Ezekiel, however, came up with a cleverly passive aggressive means with which to deal with Saviors. He conducts all of his business with The Saviors off-site, so as to not upset, frighten, or anger members of his community, and he delivers to them slaughtered pigs who have been fattened up on the entrails of walkers.
There’s likely two reasons for this: By feeding zombies to the pigs, he’s not wasting the community’s own food on the Saviors. More importantly, he’s quietly protesting the arrangement with the Saviors by giving them pigs that probably taste a little like zombie rot.
Many viewers, however, may be wondering why the pigs aren’t infected by the zombies, or whether the zombie virus can be passed from a pig to The Saviors? In other words, is King Ezekiel waging a secret war with The Saviors by infecting them with the zombie virus through the pigs?
No. King Ezekiel is not trying to kill the Saviors. He’s just trolling them.
How do we know that the zombie virus doesn’t affect animals? First of all, we can look to Robert Kirkman’s source material.
As the graphic novel illustrates, the virus does not affect animals. But, some may wonder, can the virus pass through infected meat? We almost got the answer to that in season 5, when the cannibal Gareth ate Bob’s infected leg, which came as an unsettling shock to Gareth.
At the time, there was speculation that the infected meat would kill the Termites, but we never found out because Rick and the gang killed all the Termites before the infection would’ve had a chance to take hold.
However, we can also look to Fear the Walking Dead, a different show set in the same universe.
During the second season of Fear the Walking Dead, a pack of dogs attacked a zombie herd, a battle that the dogs eventually lost. The walkers shredded the dogs to death. However, after the walkers were called away, a starving Nick ran to the dogs and ate them raw. That means that meat doesn’t even have to be cooked to kill the zombie virus. The virus simply does not pass indirectly from animal to human or even from human to human. In other words, the virus is transmitted only from zombie to human, and only through a bite (we’ve seen countless instances where survivors with open cuts or wounds are covered in zombie blood and guts but are not infected).
One final note: A few people have expressed confusion over how the virus is transmitted because in season three, survivors at the prison were sickened by poisoned water that turned them into zombies. However, the water did not contain the zombie virus. It contained a bacteria that sickened those in the prison population. Only after they died from the bacteria did they turn into zombies. The water sickness was completely eradicated with the use of simple, life-saving antibiotics, which — as most parents know — have no effect on a virus.