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Sunday, April 30th 2006

Fatal Contact: Bird Flu In America

A movie-of-the-week (MOW) as a public service announcement is ridiculous.

“We feel we’re providing a level of awareness and we’ve gone to great effort to make sure the film is accurate,” co-producer Judith Verno said. “We’ve included a lot of information we believe people need to know.”

“We had wonderful consultants who were actually ahead of the [bird-flu] curve,” Kerew said. “The way the disease popped up in China, then moved to Turkey and Africa, were things we already knew about.”

This is irresponsible and inflamitory and the previews for the movie only heighten my feelings. Its written by Ron McGee (“Atomic Twister” is another of his ‘real world’ disaster pieces) so you can start questioning Fatal Contact’s accuracy without even watching it.

Part of the irresponsibility lays with the worst case scenario approach and passing it off as education. But such a scenario even from the mouth’s of the most extreme alarmist is a far fetched one.

The threat of H5N1 is overstated. It is a media darling and they can’t report anything but the worst.

“It is impossible to predict whether we’re going to have an H5N1 pandemic and, if so, how severe it’s going to be,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told HealthDay.

Fauci had earlier told the Associated Press that he thought it “very unlikely that there is going to be the type of situation [here that] we see everywhere, from Nigeria to Indonesia.”

That sentiment was echoed by Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Speaking to attendees at a recent meeting in Tacoma, Wash., she said “there is no evidence it will be the next pandemic.”

If you must watch it airs on ABC May 9th.