Something in the Air
A gripping account of the period between October 2 and October 15, 2001 when letters allegedly containing anthrax were received by a variety of media outlets and at the Capitol offices of several United Senators. Robert Stevens, working in the photo retouching department of a newspaper dies after inhaling anthrax and cause the Center for Disease Control to launch an investigation. The investigation reveals that a letter calling for death to America and praising Allah is also discovered.
The Dreaming Demon
An earlier outbreak of smallpox at a hospital in Germany that was traced back to a patient who contracted the disease following a trip to the Middle East is examined for the way the hospital reacted quickly to quarantine itself, but still reported fatalities.
To Bhola Island
A history lesson on smallpox and how quickly an outbreak can occur as a result of the ability for the disease to cross one from species to another. The inspiring story of Dr. Lawrence Brilliant and his guru Neem Karoli Baba and their mission to eradicate smallpox from the planet is told.
The Dark Side of the Moon
Frightening insight into the true nature of bioweapons experimentation is provided via the true story of the defection of a Soviet scientist named Vladimir Pasechnik which divulges the existence of the Russian program named Biopreparat. This was a secret program developing biological weapons that included the creation of an antibiotic resistant plague.
A Woman with a Peaceful Life
Dr. Lisa Hensley, microbiologist, is profiled for her work studying epidemics for the United States Army. Lisa accidentally cuts her finger during research into Ebola in 2000, thus exposing herself to a potentially fatal disease. The chapter focuses on the steps taken to prevent contraction. The chapter also describes how the Jackson-Ramshaw mousepox virus engineered to make it resistant to most forms of treatment. The research that involves infecting animals with smallpox creates tension among those who believe worry about the potential for a terrorist to get their hands on the research.
The Demon’s Eyes
Army scientists continue their work infecting monkeys with smallpox and determine that the Harper strain kills slowly while the Indian strain does the job quickly. When the research is interrupted by the attacks of 9/11 and force scientists to evacuate the laboratory, the threat of potential exposure of research to terrorists is underscored.
The Anthrax Skulls
The focus returns to the anthrax scare of October 2001 as Department of Health and Human Services joins in the investigation along with all the entire US intelligence community. This investigation uncovers information that this anthrax features a new additive that increases its threat: very tiny particles of glass. The glass has the effect of breaking the anthrax spores down into even finer particles which can travel and infect through the air. This development lends anthrax the potential to expose more people in a short period than was ever possible.
St. Louis University School of Medicine researcher Mark Buller is trying to reproduce the Jackson-Ramshaw virus to prove that if it can be done, then it represents a clear terrorist threat. His successful replication proves to have a fatality rate of 100% among lab mice. Recognizing the horrifying consequences should this rate also apply to human victims, he sets to work developing a vaccination for the superbug which it does turn out to be—but only on condition that a victim receive an injection just prior to exposure to Jackson-Ramshaw. The book concludes with the revelation that the Army scientists have preserved the severed arm of a young child which is almost unrecognizable as a result of the effects of smallpox which has devastated the tissue.