Risks Of Infectious Disease Outbreak Portrayed In The Film 'Contagion' Are 'Very Real'

In this New York Times opinion piece, W. Ian Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology and a professor of neurology and pathology at Columbia University and a paid technical consultant on the film “Contagion,” which opened this weekend, writes about the risks of an infectious disease outbreak as portrayed in the film, stating, “Those risks are very real — and are increasing drastically.”

“More than three-quarters of all emerging infectious diseases originate when microbes jump from wildlife to humans,” he writes, adding, “Our vulnerability to such diseases has been heightened by the growth in international travel and the globalization of food production,” as well as deforestation and urbanization. Lipkin offers suggestions on how to prepare for such an outbreak, calling for sensitive and inexpensive diagnostic tests, as well as more and better coordination among local, federal and international agencies to monitor data for early signs of an outbreak. He also urges young people to pursue careers as scientists and public health professionals (9/11).