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Global Economy, Global Threat
CNBC.com | October 10, 2011 | 09:58 AM EDT

While Steven Soderbergh’s popular thriller “Contagion” is a fictional account of a mysterious virus that wreaks global havoc , the film is based on real science and outbreaks of disease.

“Is there an agent right now that has the capacity to spread in this fashion and cause this level of disease? No. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t or wouldn’t happen, or that we shouldn’t be concerned about the potential that it could happen,” says Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, an epidemiology professor, and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

The success of “Contagion” comes as real-world health threats are in the spotlight. It’s the 10th anniversary of the anthrax incidents , following the September 11 attacks, and health officials are battling a Listeria outbreak tied to cantaloupes from Colorado.

Between frames of attractive doctors struggling to save the world, the film poses legitimate questions about the preparedness of the actual global health infrastructure. Are international organizations ready to battle modern-day, borderless epidemics?

What’s the impact of reduced city and state public health budgets?

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