What did you think about the reading?
In Part 2 of The Hot Zone Richard Preston’s focus shifts from the effects of the viruses to the precautions that those who deal with them follow. In numerous points in the plot, the author slowly takes us through the actions and thoughts of the characters. He really made me think about the essence of the human mind in difficult situations as compared to in that of more simple aspects. When one is faced with a previously inconceivable series of events, they tend to really ignore most minute details and focus on the big picture and really just think in a logical manner. When one of the scientists is faced with a potential predicament of becoming infected with a virus, they quickly and logically reasons out the potential situations that they should follow. In comparison, people can spend a good period of time contemplating on what to eat. The human mind is truly an interesting phenomenon that is difficult to understand. In addition to this, I thought about the characteristics and personalities of certain unique characters. Some characters were simply odd and had passions for things such as eating bugs. Others were simple and lived in an average American household. Richard Preston really gave the characters a realistic and diverse feel. The conditions surrounding Ebola’s spread to the United States are scary in the context of the monkeys spreading the virus without much regulation should really be a cause of fear in a world such globally connected as ours. Essentially, I really thought of the dangers of viruses and the necessities of more regulation in the importation of animals into different countries.
What did you learn?
While reading the novel, I really thought about how foolish confidence leads to unnecessary mistakes. Several examples in the novel make this a reoccurring motif. When the scientists (Geisbert, Jahrling, and Peters) sniff one unknown agent in anticipation that it would smell like grape juice. To their horror, it is later found out that the agent is likely a deadly virus. Despite being highly knowledgeable in an aspect, one must always take the steps that are essential for self-protection and self-preservation. Foolish confidence always makes room for error. The potential of the people who sold the monkeys using dirty needles is an additional aspect that reflects this motif. It is not difficult to understand that after injecting thousands of monkeys and having little effects from used needles, people would not see why new needles are essential. This sort of “if it hasn’t happened, it never will” attitude often have great repercussions in professional fields. This novel taught me that it is better to not do something at all rather than slack off while doing it. In addition to this life-lesson I learned more about the paths of the viruses and the procedures that were used for their containment. I learned how difficult yet fascinating a career in infectious diseases is. The “attack” on the monkey house that the team is preparing really seems to be similar to a secret army operation. Something that I found odd was the fact that the team that was containing the monkey house found secrecy essential. The fact that they could only put the space-suits on inside of the building made me concerned for their health. It was interesting how highly public tranquility can be valued.
What questions do you still have?
I am interested in finding out whether or not the team will be successful or not in their mission inside the monkey house. I also would like to know if word will be seep out to the general public about a potential outbreak despite the team’s best efforts as keeping their mission as secretive as possible. Obviously, I am still interested in finding out more of the details surrounding the paths and circumstances surrounding the spread of the viruses. The safety of those that have been exposed to the virus in one-way or another is also a point of interest. Will anybody that worked inside the monkey house come down with the symptoms? Will anybody on the team somehow infect themselves? I cannot wait to have these questions answered and find out the mysteries of Ebola.