HEALTHY LIVING
09/12/2011 12:10 pm ET | Updated Nov 12, 2011

'Contagion': Could A Similar Virus Happen In Real Life? (VIDEO)

Whether you've seen the film, seen its 82% score on Rotten Tomatoes or had the misfortune of witnessing its living bacteria bilboard, chances are you've taken a panic-stricken moment to wonder: Could 'Contagion' really happen?

The answer, it turns out, may not be exactly what you want to hear.

CBS's Erica Hill spoke to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, who also advised producers of Contagion on how to make the plot as plausible as possible, and found his answers "unnerving."

"It's possible for a thing to spread very fast, take for example the measles virus," Frieden told Hill.

"Without vaccines each person with measles infects about 15 other people. One person with measles can infect someone who is 100 feet away."

According to Frieden, it's not hopeless.

"So sure, this is possible, but what's important is that we can do a lot to prevent it, to reduce the impact as well."

Writers at Moviefone did some investigation of their own and spoke with Dr. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia, and another advisor for the film.

According to the publication, Contagion is not only plausible, but based on real events ... with a touch of Hollywood.

"The virus is modeled after SARS, the 2003 respiratory virus that caused a worldwide panic but fizzled out after causing only about 900 deaths around the globe. Unlike SARS, the 'Contagion' virus attacks the central nervous system as well, causing what Lipkin admits are more cinematic symptoms."

Lipkin also admitted that the vaccine developed for the fictional virus is developed "faster than it would be in real life" and that, to him, the film's plot is "something in the way of a wake-up call."

WATCH:

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