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The Hot Zone Written by Richard Preston

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The book "THE HOT ZONE" is written by Richard Preston and is based on true events that occurred in Reston Maryland in the early 1980's. The book follows the various outbreaks of the filovirus virus know as Marburg, Ebola Sudan, Ebola Zaire and Ebola Reston. Ebola Reston is an outbreak that occurred in Reston Maryland in a monkey house.

Gene Johnson is a civilian biohazard expert who was running the Ebola research program at USAMRIDD institute. "Gene Johnson is described as being somewhat of a wild man who is a large man, with a broad heavy face and loose flying disheveled brown hair and a bushy beard with a gut hanging down over his belt and deep glaring eyes. He is considered one of the world experts when it comes to his knowledge and handling of hot agents and has a reputation for being a top-notch field epidemiologist (a person who studies viral diseases in the wild)" (Preston, 1994). Gene Johnson was given permission to explore the Kitum cave in 1988 where it is believed that Charles Monet contracted the Ebola strain. Although the study was very extensive, they never found any traces of the filovirus known as Marburg.

"Gene Johnson's Ebola experiment was simple; he would infect a few monkeys with the virus and then treat them with different drugs hoping they would get better. The reason monkeys where used is because they are nearly identical to humans is a biological sense" (Preston, 1994). Johnson is given the task of training Major Nancy Jaxx on the proper procedures when it comes to handling and studying Ebola virus, which is consider Level 4 risk. To enter the "Hot Zone" or level 4 there are several procedures one has to do. "First you take off all your clothes, put on a sterile scrub suit and surgical cap before entering level two. Here you are exposed to ultraviolet light and receive socks. Entering level three is where you tape your socks to your pants, and rubber gloves to your cuffs in which afterwards you enter the antechamber to putt on a space suit and hook it up to air hoses" (Preston, 1994).

Throughout the story Johnson's role is studying Ebola Virus, of which he is very passionate. When Ebola Reston breaks out in the monkey house, Gene is given the first task of setting up procedures and policies to keep everyone safe. He is also given the daunting task of killing the monkeys and taking blood samples to look at under microscopes in order to determine what type of Ebola strain it is. It was later named Ebola Reston because of the location it was found and the fact it killed the monkeys it came in contact with, but did not kill or make humans sick when infected with this strain. "The three sisters-Marburg, Ebola Sudan, and Ebola Zaire are now joined by the fourth sister Reston" (Preston, 1994).




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