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Review Of The Hot Zone

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Sandra Alexander

The Hot Zone: A Scary Truth

Richard Preston weaves a true tale about a chilling story of an Ebola virus (A disease-causing agent smaller than a bacterium, consisting of a shell made of proteins and membranes and a core containing DNA or RNA. A virus depends on living cells in order to replicate.) outbreak that occurs in a suburban Washington, D.C. laboratory in 1989. In this laboratory, monkeys being used in scientific experiments quickly sicken and die due to a filovirus (A family of viruses that comprises only Ebola and Marburg.). From this introduction, Preston tells about an explosive chain of lethal transmissions (Sore of biological meltdown wherein a lethal infectious agent spreads explosively through a population, killing a large percentage of the population.), which begins far from this Washington, D.C. laboratory and allows the laboratory to become a hot zone (Area that contains lethal, infectious organisms.). In graphic detail, Preston presents a meltdown of a man's body, Charles Monet, which is invaded by a filovirus in a part of the African rain forests that also presents the world with the HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus, the cause of AIDS. It is an emerging Level 2 agent from the rain forests of Africa. Exact origin unknown. Now amplifying globally its ultimate level of penetration into the human species is completely unknown.) virus through the Kinshasa Highway (AIDS highway. The main route by which HIV traveled during its breakout from the central African rain forest. The road loinks Kinshasa, in Zaire, with East Africa.). This becomes the first known index case (First known case in an outbreak of infectious disease. Sometimes spreads the disease widely.) and allows extreme amplification (Multiplication of a virus everywhere in a host, partly transforming the host into virus.) to occur as the virus spreads its billions of replicated copies triggering a chain of lethal transmissions which could ultimately threaten the entire population of the United States and the world if it turns into a major outbreak.

The history of these filoviruses, the Ebloa and Marburg (Closely related to Ebola. Was initially called stretched rabies.) viruses, are presented by Preston in a detailed manner and capture the interest of the reader by showing their ability to destroy the human race and the impact that they have and will play in the lives of the story's true-life characters, especially those in the United States. He relates how the possibility of the virus exists in the host (Organism that serves as a home to, and often as a food supply fork a parasite, such as a virus.) monkeys and its finding through the use of a powerful electron microscope (Large and very powerful microscope that uses a beam of electrons to enlarge the image of a very small object, such as a virus, and replicate it on a screen.) and the determination that it is not a SHF (Simian hemorrhagic fever. A monkey virus that is harmless to humans.) which would not be harmful to humans. Of primary importance to the reader and book is the detail that Preston presents about the individuals associated with the United States Army, the United States Veterinary Corps and a secret SWAT team who were instrumental in halting the spread of the virus. The SWAT team wears chemturion space suits (Pressurized, heavy-duty biological space suit used in Biosafety Level 4 containment areas. Also known as a blue suit because it is bright blue.) or racal suits (Portable, positive-pressure space suit with a battery-powered air supply. For use in fieldwork with extreme biohazards that are believed to be airborne. Also known as an orange suit because it is bright orange.) as they enter the monkey house in Virginia to kill all of the monkeys and obtain samples of tissue from the monkeys. During this procedure, the SWAT team has to situate a gray area (Intermediate area or room between a hot zone and the normal world A place where the two worlds meet.) between the monkeys and the outside world and carry out the tissue samples in a cylindrical biohazard container called a hatbox (Military slang for cylindrical biohazard container made of waxed cardboard. Also known as an ice-cream container.) while making sure that they continue to decon (To decontaminate; decontamination.) with the use of environchem (Green liquid disinfectant used in air-lock chemical showers. An effective virus killer.) and sterilization (Unequivocal, total destruction of all living organisms. Extremely difficult to achieve in practice, and



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