Could It Happen? The Truth About Disaster Movies

So, while it's possible for a longstanding bacterial infection to cause physical deformation, the quick turnaround of contamination to eating away at your flesh like in this movie is yet another embellished Hollywood horror scene.

'Children of Men'


Nearly two decades of infertility are causing the human race to slowly die out. But the protagonist, Theo Faron, finds one woman who is pregnant and he teams up with his ex-wife to protect the woman so the baby can save the human race from extinction.

Question you may ask:

Is there a virus that causes infertility?

What the Experts Say:

While there is no viral infection that can cause infertility, bacterial infections such as gonorrhea and tuberculosis can cause an individual to be sterile.

"But these infections are treatable," Gershon said. "So this is another false scenario."

Infertility affects 7.3 million people in the United States, according to statistics compiled by Resolve: The National Infertility Association. But, Gershon said, there is no indication that as a species we are headed toward sterility.

"We are certainly seeing a rise in women using infertility services," Gershon said. "But I think it's more societal than biological."

Some women may be putting off having children until an older age because they are contributing to the work force. And, for some, an increase in age may increase the difficulty of getting pregnant, Gershon said. Also, some may be choosing to have fewer children right now for economic reasons, she said.

'Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America'


"Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" entertains the scenario of the H5N1 avian influenza virus, or bird flu, pandemic in the United States. Although the H5N1 virus has not yet appeared here, the movie is based on the emergence of bird flu cases in Southeast Asia.

Question you may ask:

What is the likelihood of a bird flu pandemic in America?

What the Experts Say:

This scenario might certainly seem likely because we have seen infections such as SARS emerge in the United States through infected travelers from Asia.

"It's a very scary scenario," Gershon said. "But, if I had to guess, I would say not likely."

Federal agencies including the Department of Agriculture are actively surveilling for bird flu cases in the United States to confine any early signs of the disease. But there is yet no bird flu on the radar. Also, Gershon said vaccines are now being developed as preemptive protection against the virus. Prevention methods and early detection may significantly decrease the likelihood of a pandemic, she said.

"This would be believable if we were not being careful," Gershon said. "But I think we're paying attention."


Cold & Flu season is here! Visit the OnCall+ Cold & Flu Center to get all your questions answered about these nasty viruses.

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