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September 19, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
The hit movie "Contagion" depicts a nightmare scenario: a bat virus jumps to pigs and then to humans, infecting them with abandon since they have no immunity to the novel bug. The virus circles the globe in a matter of days, causing coughs, fevers and seizures as scientists from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scramble to identify the pathogen and develop a vaccine. Before they do, millions are infected and about a quarter of them die. Those who are not sickened hunker down at home or panic in the streets, scrounging for food and supplies until the outbreak can be contained.
September 16, 2011 | By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times
After 17 years, it appears the "The Lion King" still has a mighty roar. A 3-D version of Disney's popular 1994 animated film is hitting more than 2,000 theaters this weekend for a limited two-week engagement and is expected to launch with about $15 million, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. That should put the movie in a tight race for No. 1 with "Contagion," the pandemic thriller that was most popular with moviegoers last weekend, when it opened to $22.4 million.
September 9, 2011 | By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times
At this weekend's box office, "The Help" will finally be wiped out of first place by "Contagion. " After raking in more than $125 million domestically in the four weeks since its debut, "The Help" will be demoted this weekend when the Steven Soderbergh-directed thriller about a deadly pandemic becomes the top ticket seller. According to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys, "Contagion" will probably collect at least $25 million this weekend. Boasting an all-star cast including Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, the film is generating interest among both males and females and a range of ages.
February 16, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
A new influenza vaccine grown in cultured animal cells rather than eggs is at least as effective as conventional vaccines, a finding that could speed approval of the new way of producing the vaccine, researchers reported Tuesday. If the manufacturing technique is approved, it could improve the ability of vaccine makers to respond to emerging viruses and pandemics. The vaccine for the recent H1N1 influenza pandemic, for example, did not become available until the outbreak had already crested.
November 30, 2010 | Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times
That H1N1, it didn't lead to bodies piled high in the streets. But the point is, it could have -- pandemics sometimes do. And were we prepared? No, we were not. That's the bottom line of a perspective published in the New England Journal of Medicine right before Thanksgiving when our thoughts of birds had all to do with feasts and not the influenza A viruses many wild ones naturally harbor.   The commentary, which you can read in full on the Web , was penned by three scientists at RAND in Santa Monica and its main theme was vaccine acceptance.
September 29, 2010
First-responders--firefighters, public health workers--know that when emergencies strike, they'll be on the scene. But those on the front lines are also human, and a new study points out that not all are willing to go to work in the event of a severe pandemic. The study, conducted by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health , surveyed 1,103 essential workers in Nassau County, New York (some of whom were involved with the attack on the World Trade Center)
September 8, 2010
More children and young adults were hospitalized as a result of pandemic H1N1 influenza than is normal for seasonal flu, but that was simply because those groups were disproportionately infected, not because the symptoms were worse, researchers said Tuesday. The pandemic flu, commonly known as swine flu, did cause more pneumonia than seasonal flu, but overall the symptoms were about the same, researchers from the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Marshfield, Wisc. reported in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.
August 20, 2010 | By Andrew Zajac, Tribune Washington Bureau
Acknowledging that the development of medical countermeasures against bioterrorism threats and pandemic flu is lagging, federal authorities Thursday announced a $1.9-billion makeover of the system for identifying and manufacturing drugs and vaccines for public health emergencies. The overhaul includes refinements to manufacturing aimed at shaving weeks off the time it takes to produce pandemic flu vaccine, and a series of steps aimed at more quickly spotting promising scientific discoveries and getting them to market.
August 10, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
The 2009-10 H1N1 influenza pandemic is officially over, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. "The new H1N1 influenza has largely run its course," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in a telephone news conference from Hong Kong. "We are now moving into the post-pandemic period. " Some places may see localized outbreaks of the pandemic H1N1 virus, commonly called swine flu, she said, but overall activity is expected to be about normal for the season. In particular, she noted, out-of-season outbreaks are no longer being observed in either the Northern or Southern hemisphere.
July 13, 2010 | By Ken Dilanian, Tribune Washington Bureau
On its face, it's just another Washington dispute about money. But a move by House Democrats to strip $2 billion from reserve funds for bioterrorism and pandemic flu — without objection from President Obama — has infuriated some of the country's foremost bioterrorism experts. It's a symbol, they say, of how the Obama White House is failing to properly address the threat posed by a potential biological attack, which they say could kill 400,000 Americans and do $2 trillion in economic damage.
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