Infectious diseases in cinema: virus hunters and killer microbes

Clin Infect Dis. 2003 Oct 1;37(7):939-42. doi: 10.1086/377740. Epub 2003 Sep 5.


The world of infectious diseases has been rarely presented in the cinema with accuracy. Apart from random biographies of scientists and retellings of stories about great epidemics from the past, most films focus on the dangers presented by outbreaks of unknown agents that originate from acts of bioterrorism, from laboratory accidents, or even from space. We review these films and underline the possible effect that they have on the public's perception of infection--a perception that, when misguided, could prove to be problematic in times of epidemics.

MeSH terms

  • Bioterrorism
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Communicable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Communicable Diseases / microbiology
  • Communicable Diseases / virology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Humans
  • Motion Pictures*
  • Perception
  • Population Surveillance
  • Vaccination