The Hot Zone

What were some of the initial reactions to the disease? What were the thoughts on possible diagnoses?

The hot zone

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The doctors at Kisumu are unable to diagnose the cause of Monet’s illness and recommend treatment at Nairobi Hospital, a short plane ride away. During the flight to Nairobi, Monet becomes increasingly sick and begins to vomit up blood. When the plane lands, Monet manages to take a taxi to the Nairobi Hospital before collapsing and bleeding out in the waiting room.

Dr. Shem Musoke of Nairobi Hospital is the first to arrive on the scene. After feeling for a pulse, his first step is to clear blood and debris from Monet’s mouth in order to insert a laryngoscope. With Dr. Musoke leaning just a few inches from Monet’s mouth, Monet suddenly vomits, spewing blood all over Dr. Musoke’s face and upper body. Monet then slips into a coma and dies in the early hours of the next morning. Despite an autopsy, the hospital staff is unable to identify the cause of his death.

Nine days after the death of Charles Monet, Dr. 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.