Crisis in the Red Zone Book Summary By Richard Preston

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Crisis in the Red Zone (2019) is a harrowing account of the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak.

Reading this book takes you straight to the front lines, as you hear firsthand accounts from those directly impacted by the deadly virus.

From one of its first victims, through the many lives lost during the crisis before it was resolved, this book paints a vivid picture of what happens when a hidden and dangerous virus presents itself on an unsuspecting community.

It's both an incredibly tragic and inspiring story all at once - a must-read for anyone who wants to truly understand what happened during this dark time.

Crisis in the Red Zone Book

Book Name: Crisis in the Red Zone (The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come)

Author(s): Richard Preston

Rating: 4.6/5

Reading Time: 24 Minutes

Categories: Health & Nutrition

Author Bio

Richard Preston is an acclaimed writer who has drawn on his experience as a professor of nonfiction writing at both the University of Iowa and Princeton University for books such as The Hot Zone (1994), The Wild Trees (2007) and The Demon in the Freezer (2007).

He has since turned his attention to the forefront of the global challenge presented by emerging epidemics and pandemics with Crisis in the Red Zone.

His vivid descriptions of the toll these catastrophes take provide an unforgettable glimpse into this unique and vital field of study.

A master storyteller, Preston has been applauded for his ability to explain complex scientific concepts with accuracy, clarity, and grace.

His power, insight, and compassion make him an authoritative voice on some of today's most urgent issues.

The Untold Story Of The Ebola Outbreak: Unraveling The Mysteries Behind The 2014 Crisis

Ebola Outbreak

The 2014 Ebola outbreak was a harrowing experience for everyone involved.

There were heroes and tragedy, and this book will help you to understand exactly what happened on the ground during that difficult time.

Through hundreds of interviews with survivors and scientists, as well as detailed genetic research and the blood samples taken throughout the epidemic, we can now begin to truly understand the events that transpired.

You’ll learn who the unlikely first victim of this horrific virus was; what experimental drugs were used in an effort to save lives in the crisis zone; and how both outbreaks in 1976 and 2014 required very similar solutions.

But be warned: these sections shall contain descriptions of blood, death, miscarriage, and abortion which could prove upsetting.

Dive deep into Crisis in the Red Zone to get an eye-opening glimpse into West Africa’s devastating Ebola epidemic.

The Unholy Scourge Of Yambuku: How A Near-Death Experience Led To The Discovery Of Ebola

The Ebola virus first emerged in Zaire, Africa, in 1976 when a pregnant woman named Sembo Ndobe arrived at the Yambuku Catholic Mission Hospital.

One of the nurses, Sister Beata, quickly noticed the woman’s troubling symptoms, including fever and inflamed eyes.

While delivering the child, Sister Beata used her bare hands – an approach that was normal for many births at that time.

However, Ms.

Ndobe began hemorrhaging blood from her birth canal and eventually passed away from blood loss and shock.

Five days later Sister Beata also became ill with fatigue, fever and vomiting – but soon after she experienced severe pain that moved from her abdomen to her spine.

Her vomit went from red to black and her stool also turned black – it was clear that she was suffering from some kind of hemorraging disease.

The Discovering Of Ebola: Jean Jacques Muyembe-Tamfun’S Terrifying Find

After a virologist, Jean Jacques Muyembe-Tamfun, visited Yambuku Catholic Mission Hospital to investigate what kind of illness had taken over this area, he sent samples to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.

The researchers at the CDC first labeled this disease X Virus, but quickly; by the end of October it had an official name – Ebola.

Muyembe used his bare hands to remove a piece of liver from a dead woman at the hospital and quickly flew with his samples to Kinshasa, which had the nearest lab capable of testing them.

They soon discovered that it was not bacterial and that same month, gave it its official name – Ebola.

This event marked the beginning of an era in which players across the globe need to be prepared for outbreaks of new diseases as well as ways to prepare for them and respond accordingly.

Muyembe is credited with recognizing and containing one of the biggest health crises in recent history.

The Unimaginable Effects Of Ebola: An Infectious Disease With Vast, Rapid-Fire Repercussions

Effects Of Ebola

When it comes to the crisis in the Red Zone, Ebola is an extremely contagious and deadly virus.

What’s more, it emerged again in 2014, in West Africa’s Makona Triangle.

As tiny as it is–just 80 nanometers wide and 1,000 nanometers long with only six proteins–one single particle entering a person’s body can spread quickly.

Once inside you, Ebola latches onto cells and turns them into factories that produce even more particles which latch onto other cells.

It affects everything except your skeleton and its muscles–causing such symptoms as diarrhea, projectile vomiting and hemorrhaged blood.

Even touching sweat from an infected person can cause infection since there can be up to 100 million particles of Ebola present in one drop of blood.

What makes this virus even worse is that it has the ability to be transferred from animals to humans.

This is thought to be what happened at a remote West African village called Meliandou where kids lit a fire underneath an old tree at a stream near the pool where people were bathing and doing laundry.

A woman named Sia Dembadouno was there with her two-year-old son Emile who may have been bitten by either a bat or a fly carrying bat blood or some other agent that caused him to become ill before eventually dying on December 28th 2013 along with his sister, mother and grandmother soon after.

The midwife caring for them brought her fears to a local hospital but succumbed to the virus herself along with the medical worker treating her; thus starting an epidemic that was difficult to contain due its highly contagious nature.

How Dr. Humarr S. Khan Helped Prevent The Rapid Spread Of Ebola In West Africa

As the Ebola virus emerged in West Africa, the Kenema Government Hospital was on the front lines, trying desperately to contain it.

This facility in Sierra Leone is equipped with a level-4 biocontainment ward which provides isolation and care for patients with a fever and hemorrhagic bleeding, such as that caused by Ebola.

The hospital’s virologist, Dr.

Humarr S.

Khan, heard reports of an outbreak around the Makona Triangle in Guinea and he alerted his colleagues.

Soon after, Doctors Without Borders sent an investigative team to the area which confirmed the presence of Ebola in the blood samples taken from patients.

Sadly, due to limited supplies of biohazard suits and other resources, the staff and facility were pushed beyond their breaking point as more cases appeared – but they kept up the fight against this devastating virus.

Compassion And Grief Lie At The Heart Of Ebola’S Spread In The Makona Triangle

The Makona Triangle, located in multiple countries, is a unique region that posed numerous challenges for containment of the Ebola outbreak.

Specifically, not only did the area consist of a wide array of languages like Hrio, Mende, Kono and Kissi but the locals viewed people from outside sources such as Doctors Without Borders with mistrust.

This contributed to suspicion in regards to what was actually happening in the mysterious white tents set up by these outsiders and families had no idea where their loved ones were taken when they disappeared.

Such cultural mistrust made it increasingly difficult for healthcare professionals to access patients, as indicated by their unsuccessful attempt at Koindu Village which led to near peril while they were being pelted with rocks.

Furthermore, the traditional ceremonies held after someone passed away was an area of risk.

Typically involving washing of the body and relatives hugging the deceased individual, this powered the spread of virus within days from just one funeral -the funeral of Menindor- leading to hundreds of infection cases tracing back to this event alone.

The Courage Of Healthcare Workers: Sacrificing Their Own Safety To Save Lives


As the crisis in the Red Zone escalated, medical staff began to fall ill and fear and panic was rampant.At the Lassa fever ward of the Kenema Government Hospital, cases started to exponentially increase by June and it was almost impossible for nurses to keep up.

Compounding on this problem, the virus even reached some of the medical staff members themselves.

For instance, when ambulance driver Sahr Nyokor visited a nearby home he did not wear a protective suit and as a consequence he unknowingly exposed himself to Ebola particles.

This meant that Lucy May, the nurse treating him at the Kenema Hospital, was not aware of her own danger either.

When Lucy May became infected with Ebola and close to death, four brave nurses tried their best to help her.

While they were doing this Mbalu Fonnie, also known as Auntie, realized that if they ended Lucy’s pregnancy her chance of survival would greatly improve—even though it increased their own risk of exposure due to their biohazard suits not being enough protection.

With data showing pregnant women had a 50 percent better chance of survival after this emergency procedure was applied all agreed to help without hesitation.

Unfortunately, Lucy still passed away shortly after but Auntie and the other three nurses courageously risked their lives trying to save her.

The Impact Of Ebola: How A Difficult Decision To Deny Treatment Reflects The Hardships Of The Outbreak

When the news spread that key personnel in the hospital had become sick, debates intensified over whether or not to try an experimental vaccine on them.

On one side of the debate were officials who argued that it was unethical to only provide a potentially life-saving medicine to some people while leaving others with no treatment available at all.

At the center of this debate was internationally renowned head of the Lassa and Ebola ward, Dr.

Sheik Humarr Khan, who had contracted Ebola himself.

For him, there was an experimental drug called ZMapp which had proven successful in curing 18 monkeys during a trial run – but would using this still be ethical?

On the other side of things were medical professionals like Michael Gbakie who pushed desperately for its use – they reasoned that protecting people’s lives should take precedence over any other ethical issues concerning the vaccine.

In the end, those in charge at Doctors Without Borders left the decision up to them and although ZMapp was never used to treat Dr.

Khan it created discussion around how we approach experimental treatments when facing a severe epidemic situation like this one.

The Power Of Compassion: How Courageous People Turned Desperate Situations Into Inspiring Medical Miracles

The Crisis in the Red Zone, as it was known, was both a tragedy and a miracle.

Many people lost their lives as the virus swept through West Africa in early July of 2014.

However, some individuals defied the odds and survived despite being in the heart of the outbreak.

For example, Dr.

Khan at Kenema Hospital passed away whilst treating victims of Ebola, yet his efforts did not go unrecognized or unacknowledged.

In addition to him, two nurses who had attempted to save Auntie’s daughter Lucy May also managed to pull through even though they were exposed to the Makona strain which was believed to be one of the deadliest versions of Ebola known to mankind.

Alex Moigboi and Mohamed Yillah were two other survivors who worked at Kenema hospital – Moigboi being Dr.

Khan’s dedicated nurse and Yillah an epidemiologist there.

Lastly, Lance Plyler who ran another ward affected by Ebola at Eternal Love Winning Africa Hospital (ELWA) based in Monrovia had administered ZMapp experimentally on his colleagues Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol with astonishing results; 1 hour after receiving his dose Kent was standing up and walking around unassisted!

Likewise albeit more gradually Nancy responded positively too after her dose prompting them both to be safely evacuated for further treatment in Atlanta Georgia where both recovered fully from the virus.

Overall many perished due to this outbreak yet incredibly some still prevailed against practically all odds – a remarkable display of strength even when faced with such peril.

Human Resilience And The Ability To Adapt Proved Triumphant Over Ebola In 2014

Human Resilience

In 2014, the virus in West Africa was similar to the one that occurred in Zaire in 1976, and both of them would threaten to bring devastation on the entire region.

In order for it to stop, people had to change their deeply held beliefs and traditions regarding sickness and death.

In 1976, Dr.

Jean Francois Ruppol invoked something known as the Ancient Rule over Zaire.

This rule specified that if a family member became sick with a contagious disease, they were placed in a hut outside the village with some food and water; if they survived, they were welcomed back, but if not then the hut was burned down – all within strict quarantine conditions.

However it took until 2014 for people from other parts of West Africa to accept this as what needed to be done for an outbreak like this to properly subsided.

It was a huge change for them, having to go against what tradition most of their lives held true.

Although it was hard, people eventually acquiesced with dire repercussions looming over their heads had they not stopped the spread of Ebola by November 2014.

Wrap Up

The Crisis in the Red Zone is a powerful reminder of the disastrous effects of the Ebola virus on West African nations like Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

It discusses how even one particle of the virus was enough to spread the disease rapidly, demonstrating just how contagious it was.

It also touches upon our human nature as individuals, and explains that it is often our sympathetic and compassionate instincts when it comes to caring for those we love get us in trouble when outbreaks such as these occur.

Finally, it outlines that with trust between health care workers and citizens only then were people able to begin containing the outbreak successfully.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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