“Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America,” an ABC made-for-television movie, airs May 9, just as scientists are to begin testing of wild birds in Alaska that could herald the arrival of bird flu in North America. Scientists fear the bird flu virus could evolve so it could be passed from human to human, sparking a global pandemic.
The two-hour movie plays up that notion to the fullest, with a running ticker that tallies tens of millions of victims worldwide. In one scene, the bodies are thrown on a pyre, like the carcasses of cows torched in the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Great Britain. The producers of the movie, from the writer of 2002’s “Atomic Twister,” bill their work as a “thinking man’s disaster film.”
“We call this a plausible, worst-case scenario. This could actually happen. It may not be this bad but it could be this bad. The reason to portray it this way is to kind of give a wake-up call to everyone and this is something we shouldn’t ignore and we should be as prepared as we should be,” said Diana Kerew, one of the movie’s executive producers.
“Fatal Contact” begins in China, where in the movie the bird flu virus has mutated to the point where it’s being passed human to human. It’s only when an American businessman “patient zero” prepares to catch a flight out of Hong Kong, after crossing paths with an infected factory worker, that the global pandemic really gets started. Playing supporting roles are a wadded-up cocktail napkin, stuffed olive and an apparently less-than-sterile martini.
Health officials catch on quickly, but apparently are slow to tell the rest of us. At least two weeks pass before the president bothers to let on that it’s the 1918 flu pandemic all over again.
Bird Flu Hitting TV Screens May 9 - Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America