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The Portuguese merchantman named Marialva left Bissau, West Africa, with a cargo of slaves heading for Brazil. Unfortunately it never reached its destination. Three years later, a Danish vessel named Zeebrug spotted the drifting ship, A party was dispatched to find and salvage anything of use. Instead they found a cargo full of undead Africans still chained to their bunks, writhing and moaning. Bite wounds were also present on their body. The Danish party, believing the ship is cursed, immediately rowed back to their vessel and reported what they found to the captain. The captain then sank the ship with cannon fire.

Due to the lack of evidence pointing to how the infection came about, it is only possible for others to speculate. Because only the captain's body was found in his cabin locked, with a pistol wound inflicted by himself and all the Africans were still chained,m any believe that the initial infected person must have been a member of the Portuguese crew and if that is true, the unfortunate slaves would have had to watch as the Portuguese devour and infect their own countrymen then subsequently be either eaten alive or transformed into the undead which is indeed torture for them.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead
Max Brooks | Solanum | Zombies | Outbreaks | Recorded Attacks