What did you think about the reading?
Part 3 of The Hot Zone by Richard Preston was essentially the most intense and interesting part of the novel (so far). It dealt with the teams approach to dealing with the monkey house. Several side plots such as Nancy Jaax’s dying father and sick employees further developed the situation into a complex and challenging series of events. Reluctantly for the team, they managed to enter the monkey house without being noticed by news channels. While inside the house, their goal was to put-down the sick animals and completely rid it of life. I believe that this was undoubtedly the correct decision as the repercussions surrounding the alternative are far too risky. Obviously no one wants to kill innocent animals, but sometimes there isn’t any decision that omits the death of something. You really have to admire the people that are trusted with such decisions because not many people can gather enough composure to do something like this. When one monkey was loose, it was exciting to see how it was caught. While in the monkey house, everyone was lucky enough not to be exposed to the virus. It was surprising to find out that the Reston virus did infect humans, but did not give them the symptoms of an infected individual. To summarize, everyone was very lucky and the team made the right decisions.
What did you learn?
I was surprised to know that a single modification in a single protein can change a deadly pathogen’s symptoms into that of the simple flu. While reading about the team’s mission inside the monkey house, I found out that such missions regarding biological pathogens are not highly controlled and many things can go wrong at all times. I thought that literally everything would have thought of by the team and plans of action regarding those situations would be created. Instead, the team made simple mistakes like forgetting flashlights. They also had to improvise when the monkey escaped. I also learned that the only way to truly eliminate a virus is to completely rid its environment of life. This is a difficult realization to make as it implies that many deadly viruses that exist nowadays will likely not stop spreading without proper treatment. Likely, proper treatment has almost always come in time.
What questions do you still have?
I want to know if Ebola Reston has been completely contained and whether or not it will infect other groups of monkeys if it somehow did manage to break out without our knowledge. Despite being practically harmless to humans, it could still cause an epidemic or even pandemic in monkeys. I also still want to find out the answers to the many mysteries surrounding Kitum cave and its role in this whole situation. I would also like to find out more in specific about the 7 proteins that are present in Ebola. They were briefly mentioned, but not really described in depth. More information about the modification that the virus underwent would also be something that I would like to know more about.