A review of ‘The Hot Zone’ and the events of deadly viruses of east and central Africa

Preston’s book starts with an analysis of the actual events in Africa. The frequent emergence of Ebola Virus in Central and East Africa since 1976 has been one of the most deadly events in which thousands of lives are threatened by natural viruses emerging from human-ape contact (Lashley & Durham, 2009). Before Preston developed an interest in these events, thousands of people had died from strange viruses such as Marburg and simian viruses in central Africa. The first Ebola outbreak was recorded in 1976 at Nzara, Southern Sudan. The incidence rates and mortality rates were very high. For instance, 9 out of 10 people infected were dying within a few hours after infection (Shetty, Tang & Andrews, 2009). The spread of the disease is rapid because the virus causes bleeding from almost all body orifices. In addition, infection occurs due to contact with human fluids and skin. In addition, the disease is airborne. The World Health Organization immediately developed an emergency warning to governments and organizations in the region. Biomedical science tests revealed that the cause of death is a virus related to the Marburg Virus. Noteworthy, Marburg had previously caused massive infections and deaths at Yambuku Catholic village in North-Central Zaire (the modern Democratic Republic of the Congo). It was also evident that the virus resided in wild animals, especially primates. For instance, a number of Philippine monkeys at an animal housing facility in Reston, Virginia, had infections with symptoms similar to the one identified in the Ebola Virus. In fact, the CDC and special secret military wing (SWAT) had been deployed to destroy the Reston facility, although scientific tests later found that the virus could not affect humans (Preston, 1994). However, Richard Preston writes in his book “…the earth may increase its immune responses against humans…” to describe how natural viruses and microorganisms can turn out to be a major threat to humanity (Preston, 1994).

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