Hollywood thriller Contagion echoes real-life study at University of Warwick

Soon-to-be released Hollywood film Contagion stars Kate Winslet as a doctor battling the horrors of a global pandemic – but real-life scientists at the University of Warwick are urging people to help them track how contagious diseases spread in the real world.

The film, which also stars Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow,  follows the deadly progress of a killer airborne virus from person to person.  But away from the big screen, members of the public can help scientists at the University of Warwick understand the speed at which diseases such as flu pandemics could spread through the British population.

Professor Matthew Keeling, a mathematical biologist at the University of Warwick, is appealing for more people to take an anonymous online about their every-day social interactions in a bid to model how these mixing patterns could affect the spread of infection.

Warwick scientists have already reached 5,000 completed surveys at www.contactsurvey.org - but are aiming to hit 10,000 by the time the film is released in the UK on October 21.

They are particularly interested in getting more schoolchildren to take the short survey, and have developed a simpler survey for Key Stage 1 & 2 students.

Professor Keeling said: “The trailer for Contagion focuses on how many contacts we make during each day and how highly infectious diseases spread throughout the population.

“That’s exactly what we are looking at with this survey – how many people each person has contact with and how infection could spread through this network of contacts.

“This important research will give us a better idea of how to control infection and understand who the main at-risk groups are.”

The project is being funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and spearheaded by Professor Keeling of the University of Warwick, together with Dr Jonathan Read from the University of Liverpool.

Professor Keeling said he was particularly keen to get more schoolchildren and people under 30 to take part.

“They are currently under-represented in the survey yet they are probably the most important groups in spreading infection,” he said.

More information: For further details, or to complete the survey online, log on to www.contactsurvey.org

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Key to controlling deadly viruses in bat community

Feb 15, 2011

CSIRO research into how bats can host some of the world’s deadliest viruses without suffering any ill-effects themselves will lead to improved strategies for controlling the spread of bat-borne diseases.

Recommended for you

Ebola kills Liberian doctor, 2 Americans infected

29 minutes ago

(AP)—One of Liberia's most high-profile doctors has died of Ebola, officials said Sunday, and an American physician was being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying ...

Hepatitis C virus genotype 1 is most prevalent worldwide

59 minutes ago

In one of the largest prevalence studies to date, researchers from the U.K. provide national, regional, and global genotype prevalence estimates for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Findings published in Hepatology, a journa ...

1 in 3000 blood donors in England infected with hepatitis E

1 hour ago

The first systematic analysis of hepatitis E virus (HEV) transmission by blood components indicates that about 1 in 3000 donors in England have HEV in their plasma. The findings, published in The Lancet, suggest that around ...

Biologic treatments for RA carry similar infection risk

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—The risk of hospitalized bacterial infections in older rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients is similar for rituximab or abatacept compared to etanercept, although it is higher for infliximab, ...

New oral drug regimens cure hardest-to-treat hepatitis C

1 hour ago

Two new pill-only antiviral drug regimens could provide shorter, more effective treatment options with fewer side effects for the majority of patients infected with hepatitis C, even those most difficult to treat, according ...

Nigeria death shows Ebola can spread by air travel

14 hours ago

(AP)—Nigerian health authorities raced to stop the spread of Ebola on Saturday after a man sick with one of the world's deadliest diseases brought it by plane to Lagos, Africa's largest city with 21 million ...

User comments