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Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC, by Joseph B. McCormick and Sue Fisher-Hoch, both physicians, tells many stories of treating high-morbidity, high-mortality diseases in developing countries. It is an interesting book that continues several stories that have been emerging over the past five years - emerging viruses, of course, but also bacterial resistance, safe handling of infectious material, the dangers of used needles, and, of course, the environmental conditions that predispose humans to contract disease. Here are some short book reviews and links to sites with documents that treat primarily Ebola. Short reviews of books treating medical ecology and the history of medicine may be found at Books of Medical and Healthcare Interest. A longer review of Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC appears in the August 2, 1996, edition of The Net Net.


The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston
Anchor Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell
A novelistic non-fiction account of the Reston outbreak of filovirus in imported monkeys, The Hot Zone is a wild ride. From the opening sequence (in which a person starts melting on an airplane and then explodes in a casualty unit) to the ending (in which our intrepid narrator visits the place where the first "character" probably contracted his disease), The Hot Zone portrays people both frightened and fascinated by Ebola Zaire. Never mind that the victims featured in the book only actually contract Marburg (which has a much lower fatality rate) or the monkey filovirus (which is not dangerous to humans.) This is an exciting - and excited - book, long on lurid style and a bit short on care. It betrays the author's reliance on military sources, even mislabeling standard medical jargon as "military slang." But it's a heck of a fun read. Well, maybe not on an airplane. Or while waiting for the doctor.

Ebola: A Documentary Novel of Its First Explosion, by William Close
Ivy Books, published by Ballantine Books
Ebola is a novel based on the Yambuku outbreak of Ebola Zaire, which occurred in 1976. The earliest labeled account of Ebola virus, it occurred while William Close was still in Zaire, tending Zairian President Mobutu. Joe McCormick, former head of the CDC's Special Pathogens branch and one of the few physicians who has treated patients with Ebola, calls Close's novel "the best researched and thus the most accurate account of all the events that tooks place there in 1976." It is worth noting that the care of high-profile pathogens is an occupation that attracts people with very large personalities, and William Close - said by McCormick to have settled his medical practice in Zaire in pursuit of his ideals - seems to have among the largest.

Virus Ground Zero: Stalking the Killer Viruses With the Centers for Disease Control, by Ed Regis
Pocket Books
And Ebola is back! As if it ever left, but "Stalking the Killer Viruses with the Centers for Disease Control" is simply misleading. Far from a thrilling trek through exotic virus-ridden lands, Regis offers a sort of querulous anti-history of the CDC, complete with silly political posturing and a few insults tossed at other journalists. Regis's book feels like a Tom Clancy minus about 700 pages. Obvious in its conservative politics, heartfelt in its patriotic fervor, Virus Ground Zero is, at least, mercifully short. The positions Regis argues against are almost all deliberate misconstructions of quotes and forced implications for the loaded images of others. The primary target is the alleged millenarian alarmism of Laurie Garrett, author of The Coming Plague. Regis evidently never read the book, but he seems to think that its title (also misleading, in fairness) says it all, that talking about Ebola means talking about the end of life as we know it. And Regis kindly offers to disabuse us of this notion, albeit unimpressively, in this book that has arrived far too late (November 1996) to cash in on "heat of the moment" indulgence.


WHO Home Page

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Center for Infectious Diseases

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WWW Virology Server has lots of virology-related information and a whole lotta links, many of which are specifically to information about Ebola and HIV.

Ebola Recommended Reading List at the WWW Virology Server, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Electron Micrographs of Viruses features Ebola, Marburg, and rabies

Ebola Interview with Dr. Frederick A. Murphy Talks about the Ebola Virus

All the Virology on the WWW

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Modified September 2000.