Richard Preston’s Hot Zone is a horrific narration of the origin of filoviruses and their encounter with humans. These viruses include Marburg virus (MARV), Ebola virus (EBOV) and Sudan virus (SUDV). They are also known as Biosafety Level 4 agents because they are extremely dangerous to humans and have no treatments or cure. Section 1: The Shadow of Mount Elgon This section details Charles Monet’s visit to Kitum cave, which is located in Mount Elgon, Kenya. During this trip, Monet is exposed to Marburg (MARV), a form of filovirus.
Seven days after this exposure, Monet starts to suffer various symptoms of MARV such as headache and backache. He is rushed to Nairobi hospitals, where his internal organs fail while he is in the waiting room. He ends up bleeding and later in a coma. Preston further describes the spread of MARV from Monet to Dr. Masoke. This happens when Monet vomits on Dr. Masoke, while Dr. Masoke is treating him. Preston points that the vomit is a sign of extreme amplification, which is a point when the host’s body becomes saturated with virus (Preston, 1994).
This section further introduces the reader to Dr. Nancy Jaax, who is employed in Level 4 Biosafety containment area at United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID). She has been assigned to research on Ebola virus. Preston points how Nancy first cuts her hand with a butcher knife while she is trying to open a can. Later, she is almost exposed to Ebola, through the open wound, while operating on a dead EBOV-infected monkey. Preston also describes the emergence of some of the filoviruses such as the Ebola virus (EBOV) and Sudan virus (SUDV).
For instance, he points that Ebola is named after the Ebola River located in Zaire. The first emergence of Ebola Zaire is known to have occurred in 1976 and it killed 9110 people. Furthermore, he points that MARV was named after a German City (Preston, 1994). Apart from the emergence of these viruses, Preston also details some of the biosafety levels and procedures relating to these viruses. For instance, he introduces the reader to the international symbols for biohazards. Some of the symbols include decon which is a short form of decontamination. Section 2: The Monkey House.
This section describes the events that led to the detection of Reston Virus (RESTV) among imported monkeys in a monkey house located in Reston, Virgin. Hazelton Research Company had imported these monkeys into their quarantine centre for research. Preston narrates the veterinarian decision to send some samples of the monkeys to Fort Detrick (USAMRIID) in October 1989, after the unusual high number of monkey deaths. This virus was found in a mutated form of the original Ebola virus and was first mistaken for Simian Hemorrhagic Fever (SHV) (Preston, 1994).
He further narrates the death of John Jaax. Nancy’s father also dies later in the narration. Although he does not point that Jack died from the Ebola virus, it seems that Nancy exposed him to it. He further describes some of the actions that the US army and the CDC took in response to the spread of this virus. Section 3: Smashdown This section details the events that led to another virus known as Reston epizootic. This virus is believed to be a cousin of Ebola Virus though it does not affects humans. It was discovered during the testing process in biosafety level 3 in USAMRIID.
Preston points how two USAMRIID exposed themselves to one of the flasks that appeared to be contaminated with pseudomonas bacterium, when they wafted the flask. Later, it was established that while this virus was so dangerous to monkeys, humans could be infected without any health effects at all. Section 4: Kitum Cave This section details Preston’s visit of Kitum Cave in search for answers. He also discusses the role of HIV AIDS in the present and explores Kinshasa Highway also known as the “AIDS Highway. ” This highway is believed to be the first place where AIDs appeared.
Preston considers the emergence of AIDS one of the most important events in the 20th century (Preston, 1994). While at Kitum cave, Preston encounters numerous animals. Among these animals, he discovers one that seemed to be a virus carrier. He also points Ian Redmond belief that the previous inhabitants of the cave were elephants. His quest for answers further makes him to travel to the quarantine facility in Reston. He finds this facility abandoned and in a worse condition. Although Preston finds nothing in this quarantine, he concludes that EBOV will be back.