Anatomy of a Pandemic

Pandemic. It is a terrifying word. But what does it really mean? The recent outbreak of H1N1 is only the latest in a series of deadly global battles between man and virus. A last minute addition, Discovery Channel’s ANATOMY OF A PANDEMIC takes a look at what a future pandemic might look like and how we can better prepare ourselves – from the World Health Organization’s phases of pandemic alert, to how viruses reproduce and spread, to how information technology and data mining software have resulted in early detection. ANATOMY OF A PANDEMIC PREMIERES TOMORROW, FRIDAY 12 JUNE, 7.30pm.

Over the last few decades, the extent of air travel and open borders has created enormous opportunities for viruses to spread. With practically limitless borders, containment and precautionary measures are crucial. Modern day breakouts such as SARS and Avian Flu have further emphasized the importance of a functioning public health system and early detection. Companies such as Veratect and Google possess software they claim can spot outbreaks well ahead of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization. ANATOMY OF A PANDEMIC takes a look at the developments in technology, research, and medicine that have provided us with tremendous tools – from communication to medical advances – which we can use to stay one step ahead. The programme also features interviews with public health and emergency planning experts.

The 1918 Spanish Flu was responsible for one of the greatest losses of human lives ever. Victims died within hours of the first signs of infection, triggering panic and chaos across the globe. ANATOMY OF A PANDEMIC goes back to when explorers discovered the frozen cadaver of a victim of this deadly epidemic, which led to great breakthroughs in understanding viruses. Dr Peter Palese, Chief of Virology at Mount Sinai and part of the team that mapped the 1918 Spanish Flu genome, sheds light on the influenza virus and how it affects our bodies. Meanwhile, Professor Peters, “Virus Hunter” and Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Center, elaborates on how the Swine Flu genome was cracked and given the name ‘H1N1’.

Discover exactly what constitutes a virus and how it reproduces, mutates and spreads. Follow scientists and biomedical experts as they continue to discover more about the ways viruses evolve, and learn how international efforts are being bolstered to vanquish humanity’s most lethal foes. As we race forward to fight the next deadly disease, find out how prepared – or vulnerable – we are, in ANATOMY OF A PANDEMIC.