Film and TV

How to Survive a Pandemic, According to Hollywood

The West African Ebola outbreak has, as of this writing, killed 887 people and is far from being contained. Two Americans who contracted the virus have been flown to Atlanta for treatment, a decision which has many questioning how long it will be before we're facing a similar situation as Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The short answer is: we probably won't. Health care, general hygiene, and awareness are generally much better here than they are in poor, rural areas of Africa. Ebola's relatively rapid onset and lethal nature (it kills up to 90 percent of its victims), along with the fact that contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, keep it from being a realistic global threat. Almost 900 have died, true, but 1.5 million will die of malaria this year as well.

But fine, Ebola is horrifying because it basically liquefies your internal organs and turns you into Sissy Spacek during the last 15 minutes of Carrie. Over a hundred thousand will succumb to the flu in this country this year, but by all means, continue to freak out about the non-airborne diseases out there. I mean, it isn't like the movies have already given us plenty of pointers for avoiding them.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar