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The Hot Zone

by Richard Preston

Index  Notes  Labs  Web Quests  Assignments  Quizzes  Links  Student Work

Imagine being in Washington when news hits the streets that a deadly virus only found in Africa has just become part of the infectious diseases found in the United States.  The reports you have heard on the news about this new disease are enough to scare you but now the possibility of it affecting your family exists.  There are very few answers, no survivors, and now cure.  How do you react? 

The truly scary fact is that this did happen.  The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta can confirm all the events in the book.  The people that were involved also exist and are willing to answer questions about their experience. 

For those of you wanting to become doctors, researchers, lawyers, and military personnel, these experiences may unfortunately be yours one day.  While reading this novel, you will complete several tasks about what you have learned, how you feel about the situation as a civilian, and how you would react if this were you.  Please read each section and then complete the task.  The assignment does not have to be typed.

This assignment will be due on Monday, January 7, 2002 when you come in the classroom.  We will be discussing the novel on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  You should be prepared for a whole-class discussion and a quiz. 

 Assignment 1: Read the first two sections – Something in the forest and Jumper.  Why does Charles Monet have such an important place in this novel? 

 Assignment 2:  Read the section Diagnosis.  Describe how the Marburg virus was detected and how it got its name.

 Assignment 3:  After reading the sections – A Woman and a Soldier and Project Ebola, describe the Ebola virus, also, describe the protocol for entering a Level 4 Biohazard research room and why each step is important. 

 Assignment 4:  Before reading Total Immersion, how would you react if you were working in an area with a know Level 4 virus when you discover that your outer glove has been breached.  What thoughts are running through your head?  After reading Total Immersion – Why do you think monkeys are used to test the virus that has been frozen and shipped from Africa?  Describe how a virus evolves into a dangerous parasite.  How would you react if your spouse told you that he/she had had a breach in the protective suit they were wearing while doing their research?  Would you want them to continue?  Explain your answer. 

 Assignment 5:  Read Ebola River.  How do they discover the two different strains of the same disease?  Describe Ebola Zaire and its symptoms.  What do you think is changing within the virus to make them different?  What role does genetics both of the virus and the organism infected play in it seriousness? 

 Assignment 6:  Read Cardinal.  What is Peter Cardinal’s role in this story?

 Assignment 7:  Before reading “The Monkey House”, describe how you would react if you were the animal caretaker in a research facility when for no apparent reason, your monkeys begin dying.  What would you do to control or eradicate the problem?  Scenario 2 – You have just received a sample of tissue from Peter Cardinal.  At this point you have no idea what killed the child.  You have very carelessly worked with the sample, wafting it and preparing slides when you realize that the picture you are seeing on the microscope resembles Marburg.  How do you react?  What do you do now?  Do you notify your superior of your possible mistakes?  What symptoms should you begin looking for?  After reading this section, what are the first and second angels?  What are the tests used to determine what is killing the monkeys?  You are at the top of the chain of command when you find out that a filovirus has infiltrated into the U.S.  How do you handle and improve the situation?  Do you agree with how they handled the situation?  Do you think the media helps or hinders situations like this?  How? 

 Assignment 8:  In the “Smashdown” section, a loose monkey is found.  How do you react?  Do you put your own life in danger or do you let the virus run its course in the monkey?  Meanwhile, Jahrling and Geinsburg have made it past the infectious period.  How would you react if you thought you had been infected with a deadly disease to find out that you were okay?  What would you do differently in your every day life?  What changes would you make in your work habits?  How does a virus cycle?  What effects can a virus have on a population? 

 Assignment 9:  In the final section “Kitum Cave”, a connection is made between AIDS and Ebola.  What is this connection?  What is thought to have contributed to emergence of these infectious diseases?  What do you think would happen if we allowed this disease to go unchecked?  What do you think will happen if AIDS is allowed to continue to spread?  Do you think that the population size has anything to do with the emergence and spread of these diseases?

 Assignment 10:  Read Chapter 17 in your textbook.  Describe the anatomy of a virus.  Why is a virus not considered a living organism?  Does Ebola use the lytic cycle or lysogenic cycle for replication?  Explain.  What was the host range for Ebola Reston?  Why are viruses considered parasites?  How have viruses evolved? 



Answers will be checked for correctness where applicable.  Answers based on opinion will be graded on completeness.  20 points will be deducted for each day the assignment is late.