Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Marburg virus outbreak depicted in ABC's "Body of Proof" in 2-part "Going Viral"

Christopher Murphey’s show “Body of Proof” on ABC featured (on March 27 and April 3, 2012) a two-part series “Going Viral”, in which Philadelphia experiences an outbreak of Marburg virus, related closely to Ebola.  At one point, there is an electron microscope picture of the virus with the “shepherd’s crook”.

A former disgruntled employee of a virology lab gets a job with WHO and infects himself with the virus, and then infects areas in the city where many people must touch a common surface (incidental blood contact). 
Marburg and Ebola cause horrific hemorrhagic disease with internal organs like pancreas, liver and eventually the brain disintegrating.  But some people survive with lasting disability.  Richard Preston (“The Hot Zone”) and Laurie Garrett have written books on the virus.  There was one strain, Ebola Reston, an outbreak in 1989 in animals, thought to be airborne.  

In the fiction scenario (about 85 minutes, a typical length for a feature movie) there are about 100 deaths in at least six clusters in Philadelphia.  The “typhoid Mary” is tracked down, ironically, through bedbug bites.
Samples of the virus would be present in very few places in the world, such as Ft.. Dietrich in Frederick, MD.   However, we all know that there is strong suspicion that an employee of that facility was responsible for the anthrax outbreak in 2001, as has already been covered in several television documentaries.

ABC’s main link is here.  I have covered the "Body of Proof" show on my TV blog, most recently March 28, 2012.

Here is an 18-minute documentary film on YouTube from Journeyman pictures, “Marburg Virus – Angola”, dating from 2007: