Fatal Contact

Not sure if anyone watched Fatal Contact on May 9, however I did.  The movie was an eye opener to see how some people act in the face of a pandemic.  I know they stated several times that they don’t think the Bird Flu Virus can’t/won’t mutate but its a virus and I believe given the right circumstances any virus can mutate. Its a strain of the flu so it could end up being airborne or being passed human to human.  I found this on the AJC. Com

Better than winging it
Made-for-television film about bird flu should spur effective planning for a possible human pandemic

Published on: 05/10/06

When science mixes with popular culture, a learning opportunity presents itself. Two decades ago, for example, government reports about the AIDS epidemic had a hard time penetrating the public consciousness until the death of actor Rock Hudson and the disclosure by basketball star Magic Johnson that he was infected with HIV.

Something similar might happen now that ABC has aired “Fatal Contact,” the network’s fictional, worst-case portrayal of what might happen if avian influenza hits the United States.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have debated for years how to communicate the risk of an avian flu pandemic to the public without causing panic and overreaction.

Just last week the White House released a 233-page report — its second in a series about how the country should deal with a pandemic — and awarded more than $1 billion in contracts for manufacturing a possible avian flu vaccine.

Advance reviews from the scientific community faulted last night’s made-for-TV movie for exaggerating the possibility of the bird flu virus mutating to a form easily passed between humans. Thus far the virus is easily spread only among birds, but it has been found in more than 50 countries.

Humans can acquire the virus only through close contact with contaminated birds. According to World Health Organization disease trackers, 207 humans have been stricken by the disease since late 2003; of those, 115 have died. There is no indication the virus has spread from human to human.

At the very least, the millions of Americans who watched “Fatal Contact” now have a better understanding of the massive public health response that will be needed if a human pandemic ever materializes, and they may also know more about what they can do personally to help control the spread of the disease and the panic that can result from it.

According to surveys, many Americans believe that a vaccine like the annual inoculations they receive for common flu viruses will be available to protect them in the event of a pandemic of bird flu in humans. It won’t, at least not at first.

It will take time to find a vaccine effective against the pandemic strain of bird flu, get the vaccine tested and then manufacture it in mass quantities.

Hard decisions will need to be made about who gets vaccinated first, and other precautions — some of them quite drastic — will be needed to prevent the spread of the virus.

For instance, the movie portrayed huge segments of the work force staying at home and away from their jobs, effectively crippling some industries. Such a scenario is not unlikely, and American workers and employers should be making plans now for how to deal with it. Government planners at the federal, state and local level are already taking steps to ensure the needed public safety and health workers will be on the job.

Nothing about the avian influenza outbreak to date is cause for panic. But everything about it should be a cause for precaution, public education and effective planning.

—Mike King for the editorial board ()

Posted by loni on 05/10 at 12:05 PM in Blogging

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