Thursday, July 25, 2019

Richard Preston's "Crisis in the Red Zone" is reportedly a terrifying sequel to "The Hot Zone"


The Wall Street Journal’s William F. Bynum reviews a new book by Robert Preston, “Crisis In the Red Zone: A Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come”, review link (paywall), from Random House, 400 pages.
  
I remember buying an old copy of “The Hot Zone” at a book fair in my employer’s (USLICO in Arlington VA) cafeteria in the mid 1990s.  That book started out with an encounter with Marburg (a cousin of Ebola) in the bat caves of India, where the man started vomiting on a flight home and never recovered.
  
He had an outbreak where several people came back to the US in late 2014;  one died in Texas, and there were a couple of cases of people violating the quarantine rules. Sierra Leone and Liberia were the epicenters then (it’s ironic that USLICO used to own a Liberian ship registry) but now it seems to be the Republic of the Congo.
  

I had read some of the book at lunch at USLICO and was starting to work on my own first DADT book at the time, and they called me “Ebola Bill”.  But it isn’t funny now.
   
Preston has even speculated (according to the article) that there is fear that Ebola could mutate into an airborne form, much more likely than some of the right-wing speculations for HIV in the mid 1980s.
Stanford student Jack Andraka went to Sierra Leone for a few weeks on a Truman Scholarship project in the summer of 2018 and he says he was not offered the experimental Ebola vaccine (not mentioned in the review). I was under the impression that he may return this summer.  He even broke his foot there but recovered quickly, apparently.  But it is risky to study and volunteer in developing countries.

Several news outlets report that a Congo student in medical isolation after recovering from Ebola found a way to take his entrance exams. 

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