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The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston
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“In biology, nothing is clear, everything is too complicated, everything is a mess, and just when you think you understand something, you peel off a layer and find deeper complications beneath. Nature is anything but simple.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“To mess around with Ebola is an easy way to die. Better to work with something safer, such as anthrax.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“When people asked him why he didn't work with those viruses, he replied, I don't particularly feel like dying.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“The earth is attempting to rid itself of an infection by human parasite.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“It showed a kind of obscenity you see only in nature, an obscenity so extreme that it dissolves imperceptibly into beauty.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“He liked the loneliness of inner space, the sense of being forgotten by the world.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“Humans in space suits make monkeys nervous.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
tags: 53, humor
“And sometimes he thought of a favorite saying, a remark by Louis Pasteur, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“Nine out of ten humans killed? And you're not bothered."
A look of mysterious thoughtfulness crossed his face. "A virus can be useful to a species by thinning it out," he said.
A scream cut the air. It sounded nonhuman.
He took his eyes off the water and looked around. "Hear that pheasant? That's what I like about the Bighorn River," he said.
"Do you find viruses beautiful?"
"Oh, yeah," he said softly. "Isn't it true that if you stare into the eyes of a cobra, the fear has another side to it? The fear is lessened as you begin to see the essence of the beauty. Looking at Ebola under an electron microscope is like looking at a gorgeously wrought ice castle. The thing is so cold. So totally pure." He laid a perfect cast on the water, and eddies took the fly down. (92)”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“Chance favors the prepared mind.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“Once the cells in a biological machine stop working, it can never be started again. It goes into a cascade of decay, falling toward disorder and randomness. Except in the case of viruses. They can turn off and go dead. Then, if they come in contact with a living system, they switch on and multiply. (194)”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“In a sense, the Earth is mounting an immune response against the human species. It is beginning to react to the human parasite, the flooding infection of people, the dead spots of the concrete all over the planet, the cancerous rot-outs in Europe, Japan and the United States, thick with replicating primates, the colonies enlarging and spreading and threatening to shock the biosphere with mass extinctions. Perhaps the biosphere does not 'like' the idea of five billion humans.”
Richard Preston, the Hot Zone
“You can’t fight off Ebola the way you fight off a cold. Ebola does in ten days what it takes AIDS ten years to accomplish.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“He open his mouth and gasps into the bag, and the vomiting goes on endlessly. It will not stop, and he keeps bringing up liquid, long after his stomach should have been empty. The airsickness bag fills up to the brim with a substance known as the vomito negro, or the black vomit. The black vomit is not really black; it is a speckled liquid of two colors, black and red, a stew of tarry granules mixed with fresh red arterial blood. It is hemorrhage, and it smells like a slaughterhouse. The black vomit is loaded with virus.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“Nature had seemed to be closing in on us for a kill, when she suddenly turned her face away and smiled. It was a Mona Lisa smile, the meaning of which no one could figure out.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“He becomes dizzy and utterly weak, and his spine goes limp and nerveless and he loses all sense of balance. The room is turning around and around. He is going into shock. He leans over, head on his knees, and brings up an incredible quantity of blood from his stomach and spills it onto the floor with a gasping groan. He loses consciousness and pitches forward onto the floor. The only sound is a choking in his throat as he continues to vomit blood and black matter while unconscious. Then comes a sound like a bedsheet being torn in half, which is the sound of his bowels opening and venting blood from the anus. The blood is mixed with intestinal lining. He has sloughed his gut. The linings of his intestines have come off and are being expelled along with huge amounts of blood. Monet has crashed and is bleeding out.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“One room in the hospital had not been cleaned up. No one, not even the nuns, had had the courage to enter the obstetric ward. When Joel Breman and the team went in, they found basins of foul water standing among discarded, bloodstained syringes. The room had been abandoned in the middle of childbirths, where dying mothers had aborted fetuses infected with Ebola. The team had discovered the red chamber of the virus queen at the end of the earth, where the life-form had amplified through mothers and their unborn children. (95)”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
tags: death
“He saw virus particles shaped like snakes, in negative images. They were white cobras tangled among themselves, like the hair of Medusa. They were the face of nature herself, the obscene goddess revealed naked. This life form thing was breathtakingly beautiful. As he stared at it, he found himself being pulled out of the human world into a world where moral boundaries blur and finally dissolve completely. He was lost in wonder and admiration, even though he knew that he was the prey. (149)”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“Ebola Zaire attacks every organ and tissue in the human body except skeletal muscle and bone. It is a perfect parasite because it transforms virtually every part of the body into a digested slime of virus particles. The seven mysterious proteins that, assembled together, make up the Ebola-virus particle, work as a relentless machine, a molecular shark, and they consume the body as the virus makes copies of itself. Small blood clots begin to appear in the bloodstream, and the blood thickens and slows, and the clots begin to stick to the walls of blood vessels. This is known as pavementing, because the clots fit together in a mosaic. The mosaic thickens and throws more clots, and the clots drift through the bloodstream into the small capillaries, where they get stuck. This shuts off the blood supply to various parts of the body, causing dead spots to appear in the brain, liver, kidneys, lungs, intestines, testicles, breast tissue (of men as well as women), and all through the skin.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“They were two human primates carrying another primate. One was the master of the earth, or at least believed himself to be, and the other was a nimble dweller in trees, a cousin of the master of the earth. Both species, the human and the monkey, were in the presence of another life form, which was older and more powerful than either of them, and was a dweller in blood.”
Richard Preston, the Hot Zone
“One general theory for the origin of AIDS goes that, during the late nineteen-sixties, a new and lucrative business grew up in Africa, the export of primates to industrialized countries for use in medical research. Uganda was one of the biggest sources of these animals. As the monkey trade was established throughout central Africa, the native workers in the system, the monkey trappers and handlers, were exposed to large numbers of wild monkeys, some of which were carrying unusual viruses. These animals, in turn, were being jammed together in cages, exposed to one another, passing viruses back and forth. Furthermore, different species of monkeys were mixed together. It was a perfect setup for an outbreak of a virus that could jump species. It was also a natural laboratory for rapid virus evolution, and possibly it led to the creation of HIV. Did HIV crash into the human race as a result of the monkey trade?”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“The connective tissue in his face is dissolving, and his face appears to hang from the skull. He open his mouth and gasps into the bag, and the vomiting goes on endlessly. It will not stop, and he keeps bringing up liquid, long after his stomach should have been empty. The airsickness bag fills up to the brim with a substance known as the "vomito negro", or the black vomit. The black vomit is not really black; it is a speckled liquid of two colors, black and red. The black vomit is loaded with virus.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“In 1986—the year before Peter Cardinal died—Gene Johnson had done an experiment that showed that Marburg and Ebola can indeed travel through the air. He infected monkeys with Marburg and Ebola by letting them breathe it into their lungs, and he discovered that a very small dose of airborne Marburg or Ebola could start an explosive infection in a monkey. Therefore, Johnson wanted the members of the expedition to wear breathing apparatus inside the cave.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“heart bleeds into itself; the heart muscle softens and has hemorrhages into its chambers, and blood squeezes out of the heart muscle as the heart beats, and it floods the chest cavity. The brain becomes clogged with dead blood cells, a condition known as sludging of the brain. Ebola attacks the lining of the eyeball, and the eyeballs may fill up with blood: you may go blind. Droplets of blood stand out on the eyelids: you may weep blood. The blood runs from your eyes down your cheeks and refuses to coagulate. You may have a hemispherical stroke, in which one whole side of the body is paralyzed, which is invariably fatal in a case of Ebola. Even while the body’s internal organs are becoming plugged with coagulated blood, the blood that streams out of the body cannot clot; it resembles whey being squeezed out of curds. The blood has been stripped of its clotting factors. If you put the runny Ebola blood in a test tube and look at it, you see that the blood is destroyed. Its red cells are broken and dead. The blood looks as if it has been buzzed in an electric blender. Ebola kills a great deal of tissue while the host is still alive. It triggers a creeping, spotty necrosis that spreads through all the internal organs. The liver bulges up and turns yellow, begins to liquefy, and then it cracks apart. The cracks run across the liver and deep inside it, and the liver completely dies and goes putrid. The kidneys become jammed with blood clots and dead cells, and cease functioning. As the kidneys fail, the blood becomes toxic with urine. The spleen turns into a single huge, hard blood clot the size of a”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“The rain forest has its own defenses. The earth’s immune system, so to speak, has recognized the presence of the human species and is starting to kick in. The earth is attempting to rid itself of an infection by the human parasite. Perhaps AIDS is the first step in a natural process of clearance.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“Isn't it true that if you stare into the eyes of a cobra, the fear has another side to it? The fear is lessened as you begin to see the essence of the beauty.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“Occasionally they came to villages, and at each village they encountered a roadblock of fallen trees. Having had centuries of experience with the smallpox virus, the village elders had instituted their own methods for controlling the virus, according to their received wisdom, which was to cut their villages off from the world, to protect their people from a raging plague. It was reverse quarantine, an ancient practice in Africa, where a village bars itself from strangers during a time of disease, and drives away outsiders who appear. (94)”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
“We don’t really know what Ebola has done in the past, and we don’t know what it might do in the future.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“The kill rate in humans infected with Ebola Zaire is nine out of ten. Ninety percent of the people who come down with Ebola Zaire die of it. Ebola Zaire is a slate wiper in humans.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone
“baseball. The intestines may fill up completely with blood. The lining of the gut dies and sloughs off into the bowels and is defecated along with large amounts of blood. In men, the testicles bloat up and turn black-and-blue, the semen goes hot with Ebola, and the nipples may bleed. In women, the labia turn blue, livid, and protrusive, and there may be massive vaginal bleeding. The virus is a catastrophe for a pregnant woman: the child is aborted spontaneously and is usually infected with Ebola virus, born with red eyes and a bloody nose. Ebola destroys the brain more thoroughly than does Marburg, and Ebola victims often go into epileptic convulsions during the final stage. The convulsions are generalized grand mal seizures—the whole body twitches and shakes, the arms and legs thrash around, and the eyes, sometimes bloody, roll up into the head. The tremors and convulsions of the patient may smear or splatter blood around. Possibly this epileptic splashing of blood is one of Ebola’s strategies for success—it makes the victim go into a flurry of seizures as he dies, spreading blood all over the place, thus giving the virus a chance to jump to a new host—a kind of transmission through smearing. Ebola (and Marburg) multiplies so rapidly and powerfully that the body’s infected cells become crystal-like blocks of packed virus particles. These crystals are broods of virus getting ready to hatch from the cell. They are known as bricks. The bricks, or crystals, first appear near the center of the cell and then migrate toward the surface. As a crystal”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone

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