ABC's Bird Flu Movie Sure To Freak Everyone Out

Posted on May 8, 2006

Photo from ABC's Bird Flue movie. Tomorrow night on ABC, millions of Americans will tune in to see a fictionalized account of how a bird flu pandemic will basically destroy the United States. Experts are worried that the movie is going cause a panic all by itself.
A film about a fictional bird flu pandemic that will air on television on Tuesday has experts worried it will panic some people and convince others that legitimate warnings are mere hype. But the same experts are taking advantage of publicity surrounding the made-for-television movie to stress what they see as the need for individuals, businesses and local officials to do what they can to prepare.

The Health and Human Services Department issued "talking points" to staff who may get questions about the movie, Pennsylvania is rolling out a new Web site and telephone line to coincide with the release, and the Trust for America's Health held a briefing to try to sort fact from fiction.

"Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" features scenes with actors wearing spacesuit-like protective gear, a terrified populace and an ending scene in which most residents of an African village lie dead. "I am not happy," said Mike Osterholm, a University of Minnesota public health expert who has been warning about and consulting on the threat of an influenza pandemic. "I worry that this could very well be portrayed by many as ultimate example of sensationalism," Osterholm told reporters in a telephone briefing on Monday.

Mike Osterholm may not be happy, but you can bet that ABC executives are. With all this publicity and officials telling people not to watch, what's not to love? We'll be geared up with our SARS masks, alcohol wipes and some Xanax...just in case we totally freak out.

Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America airs Tuesday, May 9, 2006 at 8pm Eastern/7pm Central time. You can visit the website for the movie here.

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