Expert warns that film depicts possible threat

An infectious disease expert and consultant on the movie Contagion recently asserted that the film’s premise, that a lethal airborne virus could rapidly spread worldwide, is realistic.

Dr. Ian Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology, neurology and pathology at Columbia University, pointed to the SARS virus as a case point. In 2003, SARS spread throughout Asia. It mutated in Hong Kong, and though it spread quickly, it stopped before an outbreak began in the United States, according to

“We dodged a bullet with SARS,” Lipkin said, reports.

Lipkin said that new drugs, vaccines and research are needed to prepare the nation for the next potential worldwide pandemic, including one caused by a terrorist attack.

“We travel, we trade…we are all connected,” Lipkin said, according to

The WMD Center, a nonprofit research institute, recently gave the United States a failing grade for its ability to detect, analyze and respond to emerging infectious diseases. The center’s report concluded that the threat of a biological attack or a new infectious disease outweighs the threat of a nuclear conflagration.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Killebrand (D-N.Y.) recently said that to meet the threat of a major bioterrorist event or emerging disease, the United States needs to reauthorize the 2006 Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act and prioritize public health funding.

“Recent budget cuts significantly limit our ability to prepare and respond to a pandemic. Federal programs authorized by PAHPA were cut by more than $275 million since 2007, including nearly $200 million cut from the (fiscal year 2011) budget alone,” Killebrand said, reports.