The Hot Zone: Brady Ysker-Giefer
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Part 1: The Shadow of Mount Elgon
Chapter 6: Total Immersion
“The Ebola experiments were not a success in the sense that the drugs had no effect on the virus. All of Gene Johnson’s infected monkeys died no matter what drugs they were given. The ALL died. The virus absolutely nuked the monkeys. It was a complete slate wiper. The only survivors of the experiment were the two control monkeys-the healthy, uninfected monkeys that lived in cages across the room from the sick monkeys. The control monkeys had not been infected with Ebola, and so, as expected, they had not become sick.
Then two weeks after the incident with the bloody glove, something frightening happened in the Ebola rooms. The two healthy monkeys developed red eyes and bled out. They had never been deliberately infected with Ebola virus, and they had not come near the sick monkeys. They were separated from the sick monkeys by open floor.”
This is showing the point when scientists realized that the virus had become airborne. This is very important in the description of Ebola. It’s a huge part of why Ebola is so dangerous. Ebola’s contagiousness and great ability to spread is also coupled with its deadliness and pain. The story starts off with Charles Monet visiting Kitum Cave and contracting the Marburg virus and his deterioration from it. Doctor Nancy Jaax begins work on the disease, is cut at home during cooking and almost contracts the disease when her glove slips off at work. Another character is Nurse Mayinga who is infected by a nun and visits Nairobi Hospital for treatment where she dies. The CDC team then arrives. The quote above is from the testing site at Hazelton Research which quarantined monkeys. When monkeys started to die, blood samples were sent to USAMRIID, who found that the disease was Ebola Zaire, or at least a strain very close.
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston - Pg 195
Part 2: The Monkey House
"His breath stopped. Wait a minute - there was something wrong with this cell. This cell was a mess. It wasn't just dead - it had been destroyed. It was blown apart. And it was crawling with worms. The cell was wall-to-wall with worms. Some parts of the cell were so think with virus they looked like buckets of rope. There was only one kind of virus that lokoed like rope. A filovirus."
This is where Tom Geisbert learns that what he thought was the Simian fever, is actually Marburg. He begans to freak out because he has been handling the virus and knows that it is a biosafety level 4 agent. He knows that it deteriorates the tissue of the skin and is nearly the worst way to die. Also, he realizes that finding it on the outskirts of Washington D.C. is one of the scariest thoughts ever, and it actually happened. Also, after looking at the cell closer, he sees that the Marburg virus is so contagious because it bursts with thousands of viruses and that was what he was seeing which made him mistake it.
The Hot Zone: Page 297
Quote: The room was jammed with people in space suits. They kept coming in pairs, and they milled around with nothing to do. One of them was Sergeant Curtis Klages. He turned to someone and said, "WELL, THIS IS A BIG CHARLIE FOXTROT." That's code for C.F., which means "cluster f***." A Charlie Foxtrot is an Army operation that winds up in confusion, with people bumping into one another and demanding to know what's going on.
This is the biosafety level 4 mission in Reston. The suburb sitting right outside Washington D.C. USAMRIID has made sure that the Washington Post finds out as little as possible about the dying monkeys and the airborne virus. Mucus and slime are one of the first symptoms, and all the monkeys that aren't dead are close to with mucus and slime around their nostrils. In the quote above, the Sergeant was yelling because they are all dressed in space suits and cannot hear. They are beginning the decontamination of the monkey house and beginning to uthenize the near-death monkeys. The new strain is named Ebola Reston because it is now capable of affecting humans (a worker at the facility was infected). In the time from the 200 pages ago, USAMRIID has been doing alot of testing for different strains. Also bringing in different scientists. On top of this, there have been a few scares with infection while doing testing.
If an occurrance like this were to happen today, how do you think the United States government would handle it? How far might it spread before anyone even notices?
I think due to the CDC's knowledge on how to go about something like this, they would be able to do more than we think to contain it. However, the disease would be very hard to contain depending on how contagious it would be and whether or not it can be passed through the air.
Chapter 6: Decon
Excerpt: "Sergeant Klages lifted the lid. He found himself staring into the eyes of frozen monkeys. They were sitting in clear plastic bags. Their bodies streamed with blood icicles. They were monkeys from Room F, the original hot spot of the outbreak, some of monkeys that had been sacrificed by Dan Dalgard. He shut the lid and called Johnson on the radio: "GENE, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE WHAT I'VE FOUND IN THEIS FREEZER. I'VE GOT TEN OR FIFTEEN MONKEYS." "Aw, s**t, Klages!" "WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH THEM?" "I don't want any more problems with monkeys! No more samples! Decon them!" "I ALSO FOUND SOME VIALS OF SEDATIVE." "Decon it, baby! You don't know if any dirty needles have been stuck in those bottles. Everything comes out of this building! Everything comes out!"
On a Thursday morning, Nancy Jaax wakes up to a call from her brother who called her to tell her that her dad was dying. With everything going on with the monkey house, Nancy decides that she cannot go, there was just to much going on. She goes to work where the monkeys that were not scheduled to be burned with the rest were waiting for necropsies. During work, her dad passes and she then flies home to attend the funeral. Later, the last monkey, the onethe escaped earlier, is put down and everybody thinks that everything is taken care of. This false sense of peace is short-lived because later, crew members find the remains of the first monkeys to die and were exposed in Room H two months prior. Now that the crew members have been exposed, the decon (decontamination) team comes in to once again sterilize everything.
I just finished the Hot Zone, and it ends with a slap in the face. It leaves the reader hanging with a little unknown foreshadowing. Because it is a non-fiction book, it tells of actual experiences and makes it hard to dive deeper in to subtle clues behind the story. But this is how the book ends:
"Life had established itself in the monkey house, (spiders and flies were seen) Ebola had risen in these rooms, flashed its colors, fed, and subsided into the forest. It will be back."
Anyone with a fear of these biological viruses would be impacted by how Richard Preston put his last sentence. Knowing how dangerous this disease has and how much suffering it costs its victim is scary in itself, even without the thought that at anytime the disease could come back and be uncontrollable. Also, with modern warfare these days, it is very scary to think that a disease like Ebola could be used as a biological weapon. It is this fear of unknown which Preston really instills in his readers.
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