There Will Now Be An Actual Public Health Class On FX’s ‘The Strain’
Anyone who’s watched “The Strain” would agree that creator Guillermo del Toro has managed to depict and predict details from very recent public health nightmares, like last year’s Ebola crisis or the current MERS outbreak in South Korea.
The show, which debuted on FX last summer, re-imagines the vampire myth as an infectious parasite that spreads across New York after patients defy quarantine and health officials fail to recognize the threat until it’s too late.
The prescience of “The Strain” hasn’t escaped real-life public health experts: a group of scientists at the University of California, Irvine, are about to launch a free four-week online course named “Fight or Die: The Science Behind FX’s ‘The Strain.’”
In the course, experts will explore how the show’s themes and plot twists reflect core tenets within the public health and disaster preparedness community. Sarah Eichhorn, associate dean of physical sciences at UC Irvine, will be teaching a module about how such a disease could spread throughout a community as dense as Manhattan. She told The Huffington Post that the show’s terrifying depiction of a fast-spreading disease and subsequent societal collapse could “absolutely” happen.
“You see a plane land in the first episode and by the end of the first season, there’s chaos in the New York City,” Eichhorn said.
The vampire disease depicted in “The Strain” arrives when a mysterious object, a coffin filled with parasite-friendly soil that houses the master vampire, is transported on a plane and infects everyone on board. Those passengers who seem to survive the pathogen defy quarantine to go home, setting the stage for the disease to quickly takeover the metropolis.