Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns from Hong Kong with flu-like symptoms. A few days later, once she's home in Wisconsin, she goes into seizures. Her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) rushes her to the hospital but she dies. Then his step-son dies a few days later of the same thing. He's not affected. The Center for Disease Control begins getting reports of clusters of people sick with this new virus and it's quickly spreading. It's estimated that 30-40% of the people who get this will die, so there will be massive casualties. It turns out that this is not a man-made virus but something that had occurred naturally.
The movie follows Damon's character, as he tries to keep his teenaged daughter safe from exposure, Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), who works for the CDC, a blogger (Jude Law), who stirs up the public with hopes of a false cure, and Dr. Leonara Orantes, who is being held hostage in a small Chinese village, which wants a cure. Basically, there are tons of characters that we end of feeling very little connection to.
The high points of the movie are these deserted city landscapes and seeing Gwyneth Paltrow's head sawed in half by a medical examiner. CONTAGION is one of the blah-est end of the world movies I've ever seen.