The Hot Zone Paper

Within Richard Preston’s, The Hot Zone, the very real threats posed by the deadly viruses of Marburg and Ebola Reston is brought to attention through the “terrifying true story”. In the first chapter, Charles Monet is introduced as a man with a little too much free time and works at the pump house at the sugar factory within near the base of Mt. Elgon. One day in 1980, he takes a female friend to Kitum Cave, and it is believed that this is the day he caught the Marburg virus. The first symptoms include a severe headache; but, three days later, he starts vomiting.

It is mentioned his eyes become red, and his face starts to droop. His skin changes color to yellow, and there are red specks all over his body. Once he is taken to the hospital, he eventually passes out by throwing up black vomit, that is described to have his bowels and parts of his intestines. The black vomit was the proof of extreme amplification within Monet, and once Dr. Musoke had a hold of him, he saw that blood came out of every opening of his body. Dr. Musoke tries to transfuse Monet’s blood, but every place in his arm where the needle was stuck, the vein broke apart like cooked macaroni and spilled blood.

Monet officially dies, and when he is opened for an autopsy, they find that his kidneys and livers are destroyed – yellowed and parts of it liquified. Later however, when the USAMRIID inspects Kitum Cave, they find no evidence of the Marburg virus. Today, there is still relatively little we know about Marburg. Preston describes how the primary mode of transmission for Marburg appears to be via close personal contact with an infected individual or their bodily fluids. The virus does have potential to transmit through small-particle aerosols, but not airborne.

Klaus F. breaks out with Marburg after washing and feeding monkeys, and as does a boy named Peter Cardinal, who was thought to have died because he was under the care of Dr. David Silverstein, who was treating Dr. Musoke (who treated Charles Monet). The host range for Marburg is humans and primates. Identification of Marburg was by both viewing the symptoms and running a sample under an electron microscope. The virus is between 100-800 nanometers long, has a lipid envelope, and has a single-stranded, negative sense RNA.

The origin of Marburg dates back to 1967, in a factory called the Behring Works, which produced vaccines using kidney cells from African green monkeys from Uganda. As few as two or three of the animals were incubating the virus, and once is it spread, some crashed and bled out. The Marburg agent then jumped into the human population of the city of Marburg in Germany. The symptoms and signs for Marburg, as seen in Monet, was separated into phases. In phase one, a terrible fever and/or headache usually occurs. A few days later, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain will preside.

The final stages include shock, liver failure, and multi-organ dysfunction. One can tell someone has a good chance of being diagnosed with Marburg by the red specks across the body, yellowing of skin, and black vomit, all of which Monet possessed. After the case of Marburg, came the case of Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan, and Ebola Reston. The Ebola virus, distinguished by being RNA, was thought to be the oldest and most “primitive” coding mechanism for life. Ebola Zaire has a ninety percent death rate that occurs in both humans and primates.

Like Ebola Sudan, the Zaire strain of Ebola is responsible for hemorrhagic fever in reported human cases. Ebola Zaire is a seven-proteins virus that breaks down all tissues and organs in the body, invading cells and self-replicating until a healthy cell lyses. The virus causes clotting of the blood which multiplies and inevitably stops the flow of blood to organs. In the final stages of Ebola, seizures are known to occur as well as profuse bleeding and liquidizing of the organs. Symptoms of Ebola Zaire resemble that of malaria, initially leading to misdiagnosis of patients suffering from this filovirus.

The symptoms of Ebola Zaire are parallel to that of Ebola Sudan and include headache, muscle pain, fever, vomiting, and severe hemorrhaging. Transmission occurs through direct contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. In many of the initial cases of Ebola Zaire, transmission occurred through the repeated use of an unsterilized needle. It is identified, like all the other viruses, by running a sample underneath an electron microscope, and looking for it’s “shepherd crook” – the Ebola viruses particle shape that looks like a U or a 6. Although Ebola Zaire and Sudan are lethal to humans, Ebola Reston is considered pathogenic to our species.

They are, however, hazardous to monkeys, and when they are thought to have caught it, the first symptoms include a fever. Within days they will die glassy-eyed, hunched over, and with their eyes open. In humans, individuals who catch Ebola Reston have the symptoms of the common cold, and by a week they should be fine. In November 1989, an electron microscopist from USAMRIID discovered filoviruses similar in appearance to Ebola virus in tissue samples taken from Crab-eating Macaque imported from the Philippines to Hazleton Laboratories in Reston, Virginia. The filovirus was further isolated by Dr. Peter B.

Jahrling, and over the period of three months over a third of the monkeys died. Ebola Reston is identified of being a mutation of Ebola Zaire. Gene Johnson, who Preston describes as “the Ajax of the biological war” works as specialist of Ebola. Joseph McCormick, Jerry Jaxx, and Nancy Jaxx are all involved in working with cases of Ebola as well. The main obstacles encountered by the various investigators included fear. There was this constant fear that they may have caught Ebola from the smallest things, and as soon as you showed simple signs of headaches, fever, and pain, you have all reason to worry.

Jerry Jaxx’s number one fear was letting a monkey escape its cage, while Nancy Jaxx’s number one fear was going to the slammer. There was point where she panicked when there was a tear in her biohazard containment suit, which she promptly took off, only to discover there was a tear in her normal gloves underneath as well. Another obstacle included restricting the media to know much about the epidemic. Although obstacles like these proved to be distractions for the investigators that slowed them down, they eventually overcame them.

SARS was first discovered by the World Health Organization as a new disease in 2003. Dr. Carlo Urbani diagnosed it in a 48-year-old businessman who had traveled from the Guangdong province of China, through Hong Kong, to Hanoi, Vietnam. The businessman and the doctor who first diagnosed SARS both died from the illness. SARS is caused by a member of the coronavirus family of viruses (the same family that can cause the common cold). It is believed the 2003 epidemic started when the virus spread from small mammals in China. When someone with SARS coughs or sneezes, infected droplets spray into the air.

It is possible to catch the SARS virus if inhaled or touched by these particles. The SARS virus may live on hands, tissues, and other surfaces for up to 6 hours in these droplets and up to 3 hours after the droplets have dried. While the spread of droplets through close contact caused most of the early SARS cases, SARS might also spread by hands and other objects the droplets has touched. Airborne transmission is a real possibility in some cases. Live virus has even been found in the stool of people with SARS, where it has been shown to live for up to 4 days.

The virus may be able to live for months or years when the temperature is below freezing. In other coronaviruses, it is common to be infected and then be re-infected once cured, which may be the case with SARS viruses as well. In general, SARS begins with a high fever (temperature greater than 100. 4°F [>38. 0°C]). Other symptoms may include headache, an overall feeling of discomfort, and body aches. Some people also have mild respiratory symptoms at the outset. About 10 percent to 20 percent of patients have diarrhea. After 2 to 7 days, SARS patients may develop a dry cough.

Most patients develop pneumonia. The prognosis of SARS during the pandemic was a death rate from 9% to 12% percent of those diagnosed. However, with the elderly over 65, death rate was higher than 50%. Organisms affected includes both wild animals and humans. Currently, treatment for SARS has been supportive – helping the patient breathe and keeping the fever under control with supplemental oxygen and ventilation support, as well as medications for fever. There are no medications which target the SARS coronavirus directly.

Although there is no direct treatment for SARS, there is prevention from cathcing the virus during another pandemic that includes hand-hygiene, keeping surfaces disinfected, keeping utensils clean, and surgical masks. Since the outbreak of SARS, much research has been done. Key moments involve how in 2009, researchers at the University of Iowa found that mice exposed to the SARS coronavirus that were treated with Griffithsin (GRFT), a protein from algae, had a 100% survival rate, compared to just 30% among those that were untreated.

Also, scientists from LMU Munich and the University of Bonn, both in Germany, identified a compound that inhibits the replication of several types of viruses, including the SARS coronavirus. In November 2012 the Health Protection Agency, UK, published the full sequence of a SARS-like coronavirus. Professor Maria Zambon, director of reference microbiology services at the HPA said that now researchers will be able to more deeply understand the diversity of this virus.

Having all the data related to its genome will help scientists determine its origins, as well as developing strategies to prevent infection and provide effective treatment. The Hot Zone elaborates the severity of viruses though vivid detail, showing us how alive the viruses are even though they are not. Preston demonstrates horror by the fact that the entire human population can be wiped out by a mere disease. In the end, the author believes that Ebola will be back, because viruses never disappear.

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston was published in New York in 1994, consisting of 422 pages. I would rate this book a six because of its sporadic storyline. It provided some scenes that glued my eyes to the pages …

Setting: Mount Elgon, Africa-Where they think the Ebola viruses originated from and spread to the monkeys. Reston Monkey House, Virginia-Where a shipment of monkeys from Africa was sent, soon after the monkeys arrived every monkey came down with the virus. …

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 …

The Hot Zone This book is about how the deadly Ebola virus made its way through many countries and almost caused a major epidemic in the United States, but mostly in Virginia. This book focuses on the effects of when …

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