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,...
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