The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

Author:Richard Preston
Format: mobi, epub
Tags: Diseases - Contagious, Life Sciences, Infectious Diseases, Health & Fitness, Diseases, Contagious, Science, Medical, Africa, Ebola virus disease - Africa, Virginia, Forensic Medicine, Public Health, Primatology, Consumer Health, Zoology, Ebola virus disease - Virginia - Reston, Reston, Primates as laboratory animals, Research & Methodology, Ebola virus disease
ISBN: 9780385479561
Publisher: Anchor Books
Published: 1995-04-15T05:00:00+00:00



Tom Geisbert lived in a small town in West Virginia, across the Potomac River from Maryland. After his separation from his wife, his two children had stayed with her for a time, and now they were staying with him, or rather, they were staying with his parents in their house down the road. Both his children were toddlers.

He got up at four o’clock in the morning, drank a cup of coffee, and skipped breakfast. He drove his Bronco in pitch darkness across the Potomac and through Antietam National Battlefield, a broad ridge of cornfields and farmland scattered with stone monuments to the dead. He passed through the front gate of Fort Detrick, parked, and went past the security desk and into his microscope area.

The dawn came gray, gusty, and warm. As light glimmered around the Institute, Tom sliced pieces of monkey liver with his diamond knife and put them into the electron microscope. A few minutes later, he took a photograph of virus particles budding directly out of cells in the liver of Monkey O53. These photographs were definite proof that the virus was multiplying in the Reston monkeys—that it was not a laboratory contamination. He also found inclusion bodies inside the monkey’s liver cells. The animal’s liver was being transformed into crystal bricks.

He carried his new photographs to Peter Jahrling’s office. Then they both went to see Colonel C. J. Peters. The colonel stared at the photographs. Okay—he was convinced, too. The agent was growing in those monkeys. Now they would have to wait for Jahrling’s test results, because that would be the final confirmation that it was indeed Marburg.

Jahrling wanted to nail down this Marburg as fast as he could. He spent most of the day in a space suit, working in his hot lab, putting together his tests. In the middle of the day, he decided that he had to call Dan Dalgard. He couldn’t wait any longer, even without test results. He wanted to warn Dalgard of the danger, yet he wanted to deliver the warning carefully, so as not to cause a panic. “You definitely have SHF in the monkey house,” he said. “We have definitely confirmed that. However, there is also the possibility of a second agent in at least some of the animals.”

“What agent? Can you tell me what agent?” Dalgard asked.

“I don’t want to identify the agent right now,” Jahrling said, “because I don’t want to start a panic. But there are serious potential public health hazards associated with it, if, in fact, we are dealing with this particular agent.”

Somehow, the way Jahrling used the words panic and particular made Dalgard think of Marburg virus. Everyone who handled monkeys knew about Marburg. It was a virus that could easily make people panic.

“Is it Marburg or some similar agent?” Dalgard asked.

“Yes, something like that,” Jahrling said. “We’ll have confirmation later in the day. I’m working on the tests now. I feel it’s unlikely the results will be positive for this second agent.


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