Sunday, May 16, 2010
"The Hot Zone"
Most of the time, I really dread reading non-fiction books. I think it’s the stereotypical view that non-fiction are boring, that causes me to avoid realistic literature. But this book “The Hot Zone” was a fascinating story about several deadly viruses.
The “Hot Zone” discusses several different types of viruses, where major break outs have occurred, and the personal stories of several individuals who have encountered the viruses. One of the viruses that has been discussed is the Marburg Virus, and the author, Richard Preston, gives a vivid narration of a man named Charles Monet, who was infected and killed by this virus. Another Virus discussed in this book is the Ebola virus. Richard Preston discusses a little about the history of the virus, and also the story of a woman working with Ebola infected monkeys that almost contracted the disease herself.
The Marburg virus, and the two types of known Ebola viruses are in the same family and are all known as filoviruses. The two Ebola viruses are called Ebola Zaire, and Ebola Sudan. Of these three related viruses, Ebola Zaire is the worst, and Marburg is the best to contract. By no means however is Marburg a good virus to contract. When Charles Monet contracted the virus, his symptoms were painful headaches, red eyes, vomiting blood mixed with a black substance, and massive bleeding which finally resulted in his death.
One connection between the Marburg, Ebola Zaire, and Ebola Sudan virus is that they have largely affected both the physical, and mental well-being of many people who live in Africa. What then is the cause of each of these viruses, where can it most commonly be found, and what is it that should be avoided so as to not contract any of these viruses? Scientists still do not know from what, or where it was that Charles contracted the horrible Marburg virus that ended his life.
This information has a huge impact not only on our nation, or on Africa, but on the whole world. This is because these viruses don’t care what race or what ethnic group a person is from, all that matters to these viruses is finding a host. The information in this book is, in a sense, a warning of what a bad impact these viruses could have on everyone. In fact, there was one break out of the Ebola virus in Bumba that never spread much further than its origins. The reason for this is unknown, but breakouts like these have the potential to spread across the globe, infecting anyone, and everyone in its path.
We should care very much about this information because if a breakout of one of these viruses were to occur again, there could be countless casualties. We should care about finding a cure or prevention to these viruses, and gaining the knowledge of where they can be found.
I think that the information presented in “The Hot Zone” has both pros and cons. The pros are that we have been warned against a terrible virus, and have some time to do more research about it in preparation for a potential breakout. The cons of this information are the sheer terror it presents, and hopelessness of the truth that lies behind it. It makes a person realize just how fragile the people in our world are, how at any moment, something smaller than the period at the end of this sentence could easily destroy us, and at the moment, there is nothing we can do to stop it.
I think that even though this information isn’t pleasant, it is necessary to help the overall good of our world.
I like this book so far, I can relate all of the information about viruses back to my knowledge in biology. I like reading scientific literature like this because it is interesting, and it makes me feel smart because I am able to draw parallels between what I read and what I know.
*Picture from: http://amateurbrilliance.com/pictures/hotzone.gif