Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Hot Zone By Richard Preston

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Section II Summary “ We don’t really know what Ebola has done in the past, and we don’t know what it might do in the future.” (p.4) According to Eugene Johnson, a civilian virus hunter, specializing in Ebola, the essence of the virus itself is one whose existence is still unintelligible to humans. The knowledge of the nature of this virus, as well as Marburg the “gentle sister” of the three filovirus sisters (Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan, and Marburg), remains questionable today. In his book, The Hot Zone, Richard Preston shares a horrifying account of the hideous outbreaks of these recognized deadly viruses, in particular the appearance of a lethal virus in the outskirts of Washington, DC. It began in October of 18, when Hazleton Research Products accepted a shipment of a hundred wild monkeys from the Philippines. The monkeys were crab-eating monkeys, a species that resided in the coastal rain forests on the island of Mindanao. They arrived at the Reston monkey house on October 4, with two of which were already dead in their crates. Although this was not an unusual occurrence, Dan Dalgard who was a veterinarian that cared for the monkeys feared that they were dying from Simian Hemorrhagic Fever, a disease lethal to monkeys but harmless to humans. He decided upon the assistance of the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) with the diagnosis of this situation, proceeding the death of a large number of monkeys within a period of a month. Thomas Geisbert was an intern at the Institute, who operated the electron microscope, which uses a beam of electrons to make images of smaller objects, such as viruses. Upon the examination of a piece of meat of an infected Reston monkey, he came to the conclusion that they had come across a filovirus, which greatly resembled Marburg. Dr. Peter Jahlring of this Institute followed with a lab testing of the virus culture from the monkeys. He had performed tests using the blood serum from three human victims. A test for Marburg, using the serum from the blood of Dr. Shem Musoke, a survivor who was presumable infected by a deceased patient “Charles Monet”. Charles Monet had apparently received the virus in the Kitum Cave, nestled in the African Mount Elgon. Next, was a test for Ebola Sudan, from a man named Boniface who died in Sudan. Finally, was a test for Ebola Zaire, from the bloodstream of the deceased Nurse Mayinga. Although his tests proved that Marburg was nonexistent among these monkey cells, much to his dismay, the blood tested positive for the Ebola Zaire virus. Marburg virus affects humans somewhat like nuclear radiation, damaging basically all the tissues of the body, in particular the internal organs, connective tissue, intestines, reproductive organs and skin. Hemorrhage occurs from all openings of the body. The Ebola Sudan is more that twice as lethal as Marburg, its case-fatality rate being 50 percent. And the Ebola Zaire strain is nearly twice as lethal as the Sudan. Ebola kills a great deal of tissue while the victim is still alive, and destroys the brain more thoroughly than does the Marburg, as well. After death, the virus leads the cadaver to deteriorate rapidly. A number of tests proved his conclusion to be correct. Ebola Zaire had hit the United States. Eventually the Army organized a SWAT team to perform Euthanasia of the animals of the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit, to gather scientific samples, and ultimately to ensure the safety of the human population. The effort was successful, and the diagnosis was eventually made. The Ebola Reston Virus was airborne, comparable to influenza, except with a lethal effect among monkeys. Fortunately, it did not have an effect on humans. Theoretically, an airborne strain of Ebola could emerge and circle the entire world in a matter of six weeks, amounting in a drastic decrease of the human population. Section III Critique Preston’s fast-paced and fascinating tale of scientific wonder, both negative and positive, is one that falsifies the reader into the belief of science fiction. However, this terrifying story is the complete truth, an exhibition of nature’s parasites, or predators, in its purest form. The horrifying descriptions of events, from a hospital in Africa to an Institute in the US, keep the reader on edge, awaiting the next move. From the hideous condition of Charles Monet, with blood dripping from every orifice and the images of thick black liquid staining the walls of a hospital, the reader is disgusted, and yet appalled by the effects of the exotic virus. And leaving the reader with the perception of distraught monkeys, seeking their revenge with Ebola-ridden syringes. With the various twists and turns, Preston transforms the usual work of nonfiction into an unmistakable work of art. It is an undeniable tale of pure horror., leaving the reader with the lingering, petrifying notion- “Could we possibly be the next victims of this predator?” Section IV The Author Richard Preston is the author of several books, including the nonfiction thriller, The Hot Zone, and most recently, The Cobra Event. His success with his two books has put him in the cutting edge of the emerging diseases and biotechnology areas. Preston is presently recognized as one of the worlds experts, and has been acknowledged by media conduits such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, BBC, Newsweek, and The New York Times. Preston has also won numerous awards, including the AAAS- Westinghouse Award and the McDermott Award in the Arts from MIT. Bibliography Section I Bibliography Preston, Richard The Hot Zone, Anchor Books, New York, 14, ISBN 0-85-45-6 Additional Biographical information taken from Biography Richard Preston. AnnOnline. SaraDippity Productions, Inc. 000, http//www.annonline.com/interviews/804/biography/html. Section I Bibliography Preston, Richard The Hot Zone, Anchor Books, New York, 14, ISBN 0-85-45-6 Additional Biographical information taken from Biography Richard Preston. AnnOnline. SaraDippity Productions, Inc. 000, http//www.annonline.com/interviews/804/biography/html. Section I Bibliography Preston, Richard The Hot Zone, Anchor Books, New York, 14, ISBN 0-85-45-6 Additional Biographical information taken from Biography Richard Preston. AnnOnline. SaraDippity Productions, Inc. 000, http//www.annonline.com/interviews/804/biography/html. Word Count 18





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