The Hot Zone Review

Many people have heard of Cancer, AIDS, and small pox all which can be deadly and are considered by most people who haven’t heard of Ebola or Marburg as the deadliest of diseases and viruses. Imagine a virus that killed nine out of every ten people it infected and it was contagious through airborne particles. Even prior to learning about the symptoms of this type of virus it already sounds like a nightmare. The virus is called Ebola and a man by the name of Richard Preston wrote a full length book about the discovery and the fight against this virus in the book entitled The Hot Zone.

This book goes into an agglomeration of detail pertaining to this particular virus and it is shared through the eyes of two Doctors at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) who had direct contact with these viruses. Unlike global warming and deforestation, Ebola and Marburg are not caused by habitat destruction and increased amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. The cause of these lethal viruses has not yet been determined. However; similar to global warming and deforestation these viruses do still effect the environment around them.

Before humans had started becoming infected the viruses only would infect monkeys. In one case in Pennsylvania when the monkeys in Hazleton had become infected with Ebola they unfortunately had to euthanize all of them. They euthanized over a hundred monkeys in that building which of course will make anyone sad especially a veterinarian. This of course presents a major issue throughout the environment. Even though the monkeys had received Ebola prior to the humans they still were not the natural hosts.

Obviously if a virus is capable of wiping out the entire human population based on that fact alone, it is a major environmental issue. For this to occur it wouldn’t be that hard Richard Preston says, “I hot virus from the rain forest lives within a twenty-four-hour plane flight from every city on earth. All of the earth’s cities are connected by a web of airline routes. The web is a network. Once the virus hits the net, it can shoot anywhere in a day… Paris, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, wherever planes fly. ” Viruses can only replicate inside of other living organisms which scientists call hosts.

Most scientists believe that the most probable host for the Ebola and Marburg virus originates from species of bats which have been found with Ebola RNA inside of their bodies. Most viruses replicate until they have no more cells to take over. Therefore they keep their host alive for a long period of time in order to produce the maximum number of cells. For example HIV can be present in your body for your whole life and you could be symptom free. But when it does it affect humans it doesn’t occur right away, it usually takes years.

Unlike HIV Ebola and Marburg only keep their hosts alive for a short period of time and moved on to another host. Human victims would usually die after a week. Not giving them a long time to replicate. Many viruses such as influenza and small pox already seem bad as it is but, the symptoms for Ebola Zaire are a living nightmare. When infected your blood begins to clot which shuts off supply to various parts of the body causing dead spots to appear on the brain, liver, kidneys, lungs, intestines, ect. The skin develops red spots called petechiac these are hemorrhages under the skin.

You skin begins to turn to mush and the underlayers of your skin begin to die and liquefy. The skin then begins to develop white blisters along with red spots creating a maculopapular rash. The skin then begins to tear easily almost similar to paper. When the skin tears blood pours out. As your condition continues to worsen you start bleeding around your teeth and eventually every opening in your body begins to excrete blood. The surface of your tongue sloughs off and you swallow it. You get the picture, this is by far the most terrifying virus based on its symptoms.

When Ebola erupted in the Hazleton monkey house it was covered up by the disease control center and the US Army. Since it is not classified anymore authors can write books about Ebola and what happened long ago. I think the audience that Richard Preston was writing to was the general public. In the book it states that the monkey house situation was deliberately kept hidden from the media in order to not cause a panic. Now that it’s been around 40 years Preston felt compelled to disclose information that was withheld from the general public long ago.

He wants to educate his audience on what Ebola and Marburg are and how they can be distinguished from similar viruses such as malaria and influenza. Preston also wanted to show the audience how they were transmitted and what the host for these viruses were. You can also eliminate politicians from the audience considering they were some of the few citizens that the information was shared with. In many environmental books there is a main reason or motive for the author on why he wrote the book. This main reason most of the time, is an argument. Unlike other environmental books, The Hot Zone didn’t have an argument.

The sole purpose of the book was to unveil the curtain in front of these viruses so that the general public could see what they were like. In the book it is referenced how these viruses only seem to be breaking out in only in ecologically damaged parts of the earth and not in isolated regions where there is little to no contact with humans. Most of these damaged parts are rainforests, rainforests happen to also be the largest carrier of viruses out of all other regions. They also contain most of earth’s plant and animal species. Richard Preston believes that, “In a sense, the earth is mounting an immune response against the human species.

It is beginning to react to the human parasite, the flooding infection of people, the dead spots of concrete all over the planet ect. ” He considers viruses like Ebola and Marburg the environmental defenders. The information stated in the book in my opinion, is very credible. His sources are doctors that have held and tested tubes of these very viruses as well as monkeys that had been infected by the virus. Richard Preston himself visited Africa and witnessed the epidemic. Unlike most of the environmental books this book was not based on opinion of the writer but, based on cold hard facts.

In conclusion, these book posses’ a great deal of knowledge within its pages and I highly recommend any one who enjoys science to read this book. If you can’t handle gruesome in depth descriptions of the virus symptoms than this book is not for you. Profanity is also on other concern, when reading this book I was caught off guard on multiple occasions when vulgar language was used. If you are too young to hear this kind of language this book is also not for you. This book again is a must read and I can guarantee that after reading this your knowledge in viruses will have tripled since prior to reading it.

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