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Movies - TV
Terrifying Diseases In Movies And TV That Are Actually Real
Content Warning
The following story contains discussions of acute medical conditions, mental health, and suicide.
Cabin Fever
In “Cabin Fever,” a group of college students rent a cabin and encounter a highly infectious flesh-eating disease that parallels necrotizing fasciitis, which is an aggressive, life-threatening skin infection. It spreads rapidly through muscle as it kills off surrounding tissue, is incredibly painful, and intensifies in mere days.
The 2011 disaster thriller “Contagion” takes audiences through the terrifying spread of the MEV-1 pandemic across the globe. Although MEV-1 doesn’t exist, its zoonotic origins, transmission methods, and symptoms frighteningly resemble the Nipah virus, which has broken out numerous times since 1999.
Evil Dead 2
There is a medical precedent for seemingly possessed limbs like the ones in “Evil Dead 2”: “alien hand syndrome,” in which a person's hand and/or arm appears to be acting of its own free will. Early scientific study of the phenomenon is often attributed to German neurologist and psychiatrist Kurt Goldstein's 1908 paper on apraxia.
“Safe” follows a woman's struggle to figure out why she's seemingly incompatible with the modern world. Traffic fumes cause coughing fits, the hair salon leads to nosebleeds, and doctors offer no answers to her. In the real world, it's a condition known as “multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome” or MCS.
The Happening
An airborne toxin drives its victims to suicide in “The Happening,” and it parallels a parasite known as nematomorpha, which forces its way into the bodies of invertebrates in order to mature. The hairworm needs a body of water to reproduce, so it influences its victims to seek out submersion, essentially drowning themselves.