The Hot Zone

What happened to Dr. Shem Musoke, who worked on Charles monet? How could this have been prevented?

What happened to Dr. Shem Musoke, who worked on Charles monet? How could this have been prevented?

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Musoke develops a severe backache and notices that his eyes are beginning to turn red. He first diagnoses himself with malaria and takes malaria pills and an antimalarial shot. When his skin begins to turn yellow, Dr. Musoke revises his diagnosis to typhoid fever and attempts to treat himself with antibiotics. With the continued progression of his illness, Dr. Musoke finally presents himself to his colleague, Dr. Antonia Bagshawe, who recommends exploratory surgery.

The surgeons are unable to identify the cause of Dr. Musoke’s illness but notice an alarming symptom: he will not stop bleeding. The case then falls under the purview of Dr. David Silverstein. Suspecting that Dr. Musoke is suffering from an unknown virus, Dr. Silverstein collects a sample of his patient’s blood serum and sends it to be tested at the National Institute of Virology in South Africa and the Centers for Disease Control in the United States.

Dr. Silverstein soon receives word from South Africa that the blood sample is positive for Marburg, an African virus that was first identified at a vaccine factory in Marburg, Germany in 1967. After an initial outbreak in a shipment of monkeys that arrived at the factory, the virus soon spread to the human population, killing one in four of those infected. It was later discovered that the infected monkeys had undergone only a basic visual inspection prior to being exported.

Based on this new information, Dr. Silverstein convinces the Nairobi health authorities to shut down the hospital and quarantine the 67 medical staff members who had interacted with either Monet or Musoke. However, none of the staff members develop the virus. After ten days of illness, Dr. Musoke begins the slow but steady process of recovery. Although he retains no memory of his time under the influence of the Marburg virus, samples of Musoke's blood are sent to laboratories across the world.

Musoke seems to have the potential to be one of the heroes of the book: he is young, energetic, and dedicated to his patients, even to the point of staying by Monet’s bedside until his death. Yet, as a reward for his close attention to his patient, Dr. Musoke is himself infected with the virus and nearly dies. Preston makes it clear that the filoviruses select their victims indiscriminately, regardless of character, morality, or action. The Hot Zone is not a work of fiction, and, in reality, good people are infected and die, simply by random chance.