Sunday, June 17, 2012

Top 5 Movies With Public Health Disasters

cc licensed flickr photo shared by scragz

Hollywood has always had a passion for the theme of public health disasters, and moviegoers for the most part cannot get enough of these films. There are many to choose from, but this list picks the following 5 as the best public health disaster movies:

1) Contagion
This movie was released in 2011 and is such an epic masterpiece that it made its way onto the blog of the Center For Disease Control (CDC) itself. It starts innocently enough with a casino chef preparing a pig for one of his meals. He is interrupted by a businesswoman, and a handshake is all it takes to set off a global epidemic as the contagion spreads. A pig-bat virus leads to millions of deaths as characters search for means to stop the spread.

2) The Crazies
A 2010 movie that resembles many of the zombie apocalypse films that have become so common place. The story is action packed and keeps the viewer on the edge of his seat hoping that small-town Iowa inhabitants can make an escape from the epidemic that was spread through an infected water supply. The movie has somewhat of a gimmicky ending, but the plot seems to make up for it. There is also a 1973 version that is worth a watch if this one suits the appetite.

3) Outbreak
This one is a classic from 1995. The star-filled cast includes Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman. Virologists search for the host animal that started the outbreak and are left with more questions than answers as they begin to unravel a government conspiracy to bomb the town that is subject to the outbreak. Quick thinking is key in the excellent storyline in the race to solve the mystery before the town is swept clean.

4) Splinter
This movie is what one gets when a couple and an escaped convict are placed in a gas station with a deadly parasite. Fighting to escape the doom of becoming infected and evolving into hosts, this movie is more on the terror side than the previous entries. Zombies and the parasitic splinter make for fun for the whole entourage as a series of character's lives are cleverly intertwined as their goal becomes the same.

5) Blindness
This movie has an interesting take on an epidemic. Rather than becoming zombies, victims are disabled by a sudden white blindness if they are infected. A "society of the blind" is created by the victims who have been quarantined to their own portion of society, and it becomes a free for all survival story. The protagonist infiltrates the camp while keeping her vision, and it is that secret which becomes the key to the blind society's liberation.

Public health outbreaks certainly make for some of the more interesting plot devices. Good renditions leave viewers wonder whether something similar could happen in their real lives. Technology and viruses are mutating into things never seen before, and so, may the world is not far away from such a scenario.

Lindsay Foote is a trauma nurse and guest contributor at MPH Online, a site with information about getting a masters degree in public health.

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