Phoenix doc: Contagion could happen

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – The movie “Contagion” debuted at No. 1 over the weekend, and chances are it made many people a bit squeamish, asking themselves “Could that really happen?” According to a Phoenix doctor, the answer is yes.

Dr. Cara Christ from the Arizona Department of Health Services saw “Contagion” and loved it.

“It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat and you’ll certainly want to wash your hands when you’re done with it,” she said. “It is believable. There’s a little bit of Hollywood to it, but that in public health, we’re concerned with every day.”

At the center of the movie is a rare virus that spreads incredibly fast, decimating entire cities in just days or, at most, a week or two.

“There are always contagious, infectious diseases out there,” Christ said, pointing to the H1N1 virus as an example, albeit not as severe an illness as that in the movie.

So, is what happened in “Contagion” possible – that severe and that fast?

“It certainly could happen,” Christ said. “That quickly.”

As scary as that sounds, Christ says there are some basic and very simple things you can do to stop the spread of viruses like influenza.

The first is frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water. There’s no set number of time you should wash your hands each day, conventional wisdom says you should do it after coughing or sneezing into your hands, after using the bathroom, and before and after eating. This is especially important if you’re already sick.

Second, Christ says you should cough and sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands.

Christ said using disinfectant wipes on common surfaces that may be replete with germs is a good idea. Pasmore said he does it every day, despite teasing from his co-workers, and he rarely gets sick.