Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Culture: Bird flu

I caught part of "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" last night on ABC.

I wonder how well it did in the ratings and whether there is much water cooler talk about the film today?

USA Today reviewer Robert Bianco was unimpressed. My favorite quotes from his review:
For those wary of movies that interfere in the public health debate, it is true that Fatal Contact takes a strong stand against idiot governors who interfere with altruistic and incredibly competent federal officials. (The story is, after all, a fantasy.)
.........
The good news for those who are pressed for time is that if you've seen the ads for Fatal Contact, you've pretty much seen the movie. There aren't a lot of surprises: The flu comes, people die. The only shock is how energetic, clean and well-pressed people are, even weeks after the economy and all public services have collapsed. Clearly in Fatal's America, the flu is no excuse for slovenly dress.
Anyway, the movie takes pains to stress it is only a "what if."

As a drama, it was okay. No real surprises and at least it wasn't over the top like Outbreak.

In my conversations with MD types, they seem to feel it is inevitable that a flu pandemic will eventually occur. Historically, the really bad one was in 1918. Since then, there have been smaller ones in 1957 and 1968. Thus, in a sense, we are "overdue."

In the developed world, we are much better equipped to care for patients than in the past. But as the film shows, the medical system would be quickly overwhelmed. Unfortunately, for the developing world, there would be little that could be done.

The film mentions a web page. Be sure to go check out Pandemicflu.gov.

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