Friday, March 1, 2013


                The movie Contagion is about a pandemic that began at one source and then quickly spread to other people in many countries. The movie covers an array of topics about what could happen if a situation like this was made a reality. Many people were quarantined and dying because the disease was spreading quicker than the CDC and other medical personnel could develop a vaccine to combat it. As the outbreak continues to spread and a drug was developed that could contain the virus, human civilization begins to break down as people were driven to loot and riot. Vaccines are given out via lottery and slowly civilization returns. At the end we realize that the virus came originally came from a bat which transferred it to a pig, then to a chef who then gave it to Beth where it all began. In relation to public health, I feel like this movie captures in its allotted time, the essence of what the goal of public health is. Prevention of diseases and containing them, among other things, is the purpose of the field and if something as drastic as what occurred in the movie happens, I suppose we can expect to see everything and every aspect in full action.
                Many concepts from class relate to and are shown in the movie. Outbreaks are defined as a disease that occurs in great numbers than expected within a community. An outbreak can occur and spread just as rapidly as it happened in the movie. It depends on the disease that you are dealing with. The outbreak investigation involved tracking down where the pandemic started and projecting the amounts of people that may become infected and over what period of time can it be expected to see these occur. Also, developing a solution for the virus and then approximating the amount of time that it can be expected for the vaccination to be verified and then ready for disbursement to the public is also important. Isolation involves separating sick people from others in the case that they may spread the illness to others. This occurs in the movie when many of those who had the illness were placed together. Also, many people in the public isolated themselves from others in order to protect their own health. The concept of quarantine is different in that it separates those people who may have been exposed to a disease, but have not yet showed symptoms of being ill. This also relates to the movie in the sense that everyone who was thought to be infected was purposely set apart from the rest of the population. Quarantine is essential in taking preventative measures against increasing infections and death toll rates.
                Since 9/11 the possibilities for non-conventional ways to spread terrorism has become a realization. The use of biological weapons has become a factor in the way the U.S. prepares for future threats. In the movie, public health agencies could have been better prepared if they had better communication, not only between them, but with how they informed the public. I understand that they did not want to cause panic, but the people also deserve to know what they are up against and how to protect themselves. Also, because the world had never seen anything like the pandemic in the movie, they weren't prepared to effectively prevent the spread of the disease and identify it and its origins. There also should have been better protocols in place for worst case scenarios where a disease spreads uncontrollably.


  1. I agree with you that the movie highlights how public health is focused on preventing and containing diseases. The communication to the public is something interesting, because policies and protocols usually prevents them from speaking on anything other than facts and prevention measures. Though, it would be nice if the CDC revealed more of that pertinent information, such as what the symptoms were and to avoid public transit if possible. Do you think that facilities could have been better staffed or had more food distribution preparations in place before they shut off access to a state? Anyhow, nice post.

  2. As you point out, many of the concepts in question 2 are covered in the infectious disease lecture.

    Outbreak: A number of cases of a particular disease exceeds the expected for a given time, place and population.

    Outbreak investigation:
    1. Confirm existence of outbreak
    2. Verify diagnosis
    3. Define a case and count cases
    4. Perform descriptive epidemiology
    5. Define population at risk
    6. Develop hypothesis for source and spread
    7. Evaluate hypothesis
    8. Reconsider/redefine hypothesis
    9. Implement control measures
    10. Communicate findings

    Isolation: The measures taken to prevent the spread of disease from an individual with the disease.

    Quarantine: The measures taken to prevent the spread of a disease (and analyze for the development of disease) from an individual who may have been exposed.

    Thanks so much for your post!