The Hot Zone Paper

Topics: Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus Pages: 5 (1704 words) Published: February 28, 2014
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...
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