Sunday, April 26, 2009

BOOK REPORT - The Hot Zone, or Why You Shouldn't Punch a Monkey

my sincerest apologies to all those who have come down with the newest strain of swine - cow - turducken influenza. contagious life threatening viruses are nothing to balk at. i would know. i just read The Hot Zone by Richard Preston.

the Hot Zone is not a book i would recommend to hypochondriacks (uh, sp? someone sneezed on my dictionary. . .). wait, on second thought, it is the perfect book for us. yes, it describes possibly the world's most heinous way to die via blood born pathogen in super gory detail, but it also.... i lost my train of thought. perhaps i was too busy reliving the horror that is having your insides liquify over the course of one week causing you, poor victim, to 'bleed out,' to put it nicely (follow your imagination, then go a step or two further, yup, that's 'bleeding out'). this book is every bit as terrifying as the quote on the cover says it is. and by terrifying, i mean queasy inducing, fear implanting, strong urge to disinfect my entire body making. 

pretty much i read the first horrific chapter that describes what exactly ebola and it's viral kissing cousins do to your body, asked god why on earth would he(sp?) put this book in my hands let alone let it be filed in the nonfiction section, then proceeded to block out everything else in my life as i raced to the final page to see if all of humanity was spared a global pandemic. good news, (spoiler alert!) most of us lived. bad news, now i have the knowledge of ebola squirming around in my brain. great. but wait, this might just be good news (uh, the book i read before was the Dali Lama's Art of Happiness). see, now that i know Ebola is hiding out there, it makes everything else i am scared of seem, to quote the book totally out of context, 'like child's play.' the continuum of all that can be contracted has doubled, no quadruped, no extended far beyond the previous limits of my imagination. suddenly, herpes doesn't seem so bad.

ebola, on the other hand, is indescribably bad. actually, that's a lie, Mr. Preston did a fine job of describing just. how. bad. it. is. such that i now never want to set foot in Africa. and god(sp?) forbid if you ever get a headache around me cuz i'm gonna assume the worst and quarantine you to the nearest death hut where you can 'bleed out' with your kind and the poor woman who was stuck in with you sickos cuz non ebola infested people thought she had it but really it was only bad malaria. oops. 

it did help, a little, to relive my slightly unwarranted fears, to know that you pretty much have to play bloody knuckles with a sick monkey in Zaire in order to get it. that is, until i read the part about the airborne strains of Ebola found stateside. and that, due to advances in modern technology, there are now these things called airplanes that can deliver these little pathogenic packages to pretty much anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours. beat that, fedex. 

so finally, when i come to terms with the remote possibility that i could shit out my innards a mere seven days after contact with the invisible menace, along comes this new epidemical fad from mexico/land of my favorite foods. swine influenza. the fact that i don't work on a farm/in a butcher shop where i would come in contact with said animals is helpful. vegetarians/practicing jews will have the last laugh. that is, until one of you heathens/heathens sneeze in our general direction.

por favor and for our sake, cover your mouth when you sneeze/cough/vomit up your spleen. muchas gracias.

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