Could the movie "Contagion" really happen?

September 15, 2011 1:49:29 PM PDT
It is the number one movie right now in the country.

"Contagion" it's a gripping thriller about a fictional global epidemic driven by a new kind virus, that is both deadly and highly contagious, and that has gotten a lot of people, including scientists, wondering could it really happen?

From a cough to flu like symptoms to death in barely two days.

A highly infectious organism devastates the nation, Contagion is the Hollywood version of a reality based fear.

Kate Winslet plays the role of an EIS or Epidemic Intelligence Service officer from the Centers for Disease Control.

She investigates the outbreak and says she trained with actual health officials to research the role.

Dr. Sapna Parikh spoke to the real Sherlock Holmes via satellite, Dr. Douglas Hamilton, the real life Director of the Epidemic Intelligence Office at the CDC. "It was fun to see from my perspective how Hollywood portrays what the people I work with do every day," says Dr. Hamilton.

But what's fact and what's fiction? First he says an organism as contagious as the one in the movie does not exist, but it could. "I think anything's possible we are constantly on the lookout for new and emerging diseases." "Viruses change all the time they're adapting they're mixing between species." "The flu virus in 1918 killed 50 million people," adds Dr. Hamilton.

If the worst case scenario occurred now Dr. Hamilton says they would send an entire team of health officials, not just one like in the movie. But when people in the film were told to stay home with their windows and doors closed, it's an emergency measure called shelter in place. "There are a variety of more extreme measures that need to be implemented things like closing school and closing large businesses," Dr. Hamilton says.

And to add a little drama the top CDC officials in the Hollywood version are accused of withholding information and protecting their loved ones first.