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The Hot Zone

The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus

By Richard Preston
16-minute read
Audio available
The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston

The Hot Zone offers an intense, often terrifying account of the real-life events surrounding one of the world’s most deadly diseases, Ebola. The book explains not only how the virus spreads, but where it came from and how it may continue to play a role in the future.

  • Anyone interested in the history of viruses and society
  • Biologists and historians who examine viral outbreaks
  • Anyone curious how professionals fight and contain viral diseases

Richard Preston is an American author and journalist best known for his non-fiction writing, including titles such as First Light, The Cobra Event and The Demon in the Freezer.

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The Hot Zone

The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus

By Richard Preston
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
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The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston
Synopsis

The Hot Zone offers an intense, often terrifying account of the real-life events surrounding one of the world’s most deadly diseases, Ebola. The book explains not only how the virus spreads, but where it came from and how it may continue to play a role in the future.

Key idea 1 of 10

The Ebola virus belongs to a family of viruses. Each acts differently, depending on its form.

At the end of 2014, the deadly virus Ebola had claimed many victims in Africa and caused panic across the world. Yet how much do you really know about the virus itself?

Let’s first look at a few basics.

The virus commonly called Ebola belongs to a family of viruses called filoviruses; filo is the Latin word for “thread.” Scientists named this family of viruses in this fashion as under a microscope, the virus resembles a short thread, or filament.

There are a number of different viruses in the filovirus family. Some of the major ones include:

  • Marburg virus. This virus was named after a city in Germany where an outbreak occurred, causing the death of a number of factory workers.
  • Ebola Zaire. This virus is the most-aggressive known strain of Ebola, which has been found to kill some 90 percent of people who are infected with it.
  • Ebola Sudan. Another strain of Ebola that is less aggressive, but still very dangerous.
  • Reston virus. This is an Ebola strain that infects monkeys, but not humans, and was discovered among laboratory monkeys in Reston, Virginia.

Each filovirus acts differently, depending on how it has developed and mutated. For example, the Marburg virus can infect humans, while the Reston virus so far does not.

Interestingly, the Marburg virus, which was discovered in the 1960s, is not transmitted by air, unlike more recent strains of Ebola, which may be able to spread via air in certain circumstances.

To be sure, the filovirus family includes some highly contagious diseases. Yet what makes Ebola uniquely dangerous?

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