How the CDC Would Deal with a Real-Life ‘Contagion’


Credit: Warner Bros. Studios

How the CDC Would Deal with a Real-Life ‘Contagion’

Hollywood loves toِ bring usِ worst-case scenarios: catastrophic twisters, Earth-destroying asteroids or, inِ the case ofِ the upcoming film Contagion, a rapidly evolving virus thatِ threatens toِ wipe outِ global society asِ we knowِ it.
This isِ much moreِ than aboutِ the health ofِ America.

Disease Surveillance

CDC labs wereِ onِ the front lines researching SARS, theِ coronavirus, someِ strains ofِ the Ebola virus andِ others beforeِ they wereِ underِ control.
Khan saidِ ifِ a virus isn’tِ understood internationally, theِ World Health Organization andِ others mayِ send itِ to CDC laboratories.

We don’t outsource. The buck ends here, Khan said.

The CDC alsoِ has moreِ than 500 people placedِ atِ county andِ state health departments working shoulder toِ shoulder withِ public health officials toِ track disease, Khan said.
Local health departments manage mostِ small outbreaks alone, butِ if somethingِ moreِ widespread strikes, suchِ asِ the H1N1 outbreak ofِ 2009, theِ CDC willِ hear aboutِ it quickly.
But whileِ understanding a virus’s biology isِ a priority, officials can’tِ wait toِ react untilِ theِ threat isِ perfectly understood orِ they willِ missِ the window ofِ opportunity toِ containِ a pandemic, saidِ Ken August, spokesman forِ the California Department ofِ Public Health.

Containing a contagion

State public health departments haveِ tremendous legal power toِ takeِ control ofِ a situation withِ theِ helpِ of local law enforcement, homeland security orِ emergency management offices.
A person whoِ hasِ comeِ down withِ a virus withِ noِ treatment orِ vaccine wouldِ beِ considered a case, saidِ Dr.
Officials couldِ quarantine people exposed toِ a virus, butِ haven’t yetِ comeِ down withِ symptoms.