So, fun fact, Richard Preston is friends with one of my previous employers. I’ve met him, he was perfectly nice, and I always felt weird about reading his books because what if I hated something he wrote and then I had to look him in the face and pretend I didn’t? Well, fortunately for me and my reading life, I’m far removed from that job now and Preston has a new-ish book about, of all things, a highly contagious virus with no known vaccine and no foolproof treatment. It seemed timely, so I gave it a chance.
And let me tell you, this book made me want to simultaneously keep listening so I’d learn more and stop listening so I could go take a shower. That takes talent, I think.
The spread of Ebola is something that I’ve found mind-boggling since the outbreak in 2014. The small hospital I worked at held Ebola drills. I was trained to ask people if they’d been traveling, if they or any of their close contacts were experiencing any of a long list of symptoms, and who to contact with any suspected cases. This is a disease that causes bloody vomit, bloody diarrhea, bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose… basically blood just pouring out of the body at any opening. The very idea of someone casually walking into a doctor’s office while actively suffering from Ebola seemed laughable. The idea of any kind of pandemic coming to my town seemed impossible back then. Not so much now.
The thing is, the amount of medical professionals who got (and further spread) Ebola because they “forgot” their PPE is honestly terrifying. If doctors and nurses and researchers can go running, unprotected, into a room where dozens of people are infected with a highly contagious disease that’s spread through contact with infected bodily fluids, then it’s no wonder this disease spread like wildfire. There were so many accounts of doctors going to take blood samples or biopsies, only to realize after the fact that they weren’t wearing gloves. There were so many accounts of professionals who’d been exposed and gone about their normal lives like if they just ignored it, it would go away. This was much more disturbing to me than the cultural practices that led to Ebola’s spread between family members.
I will admit that the book can be a little confusing as Preston jumps around from one outbreak to another and back again with little differentiation. This is the main reason that I gave the book four stars rather than five. Overall, though, it was a very, very good book and I would recommend it if (and only if) you’re okay with very, very descriptive accounts of the effects and symptoms of Ebola.
#mm20: author introduction
Have you read Crisis in the Red Zone? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!