The Hot Zone was written by Richard Preston after he conducted dozens of interviews with virologists, scientists and doctors, many of which spent time on the front lines in Africa, hunting for the origins of Ebola. One scientist spent so much time looking for Ebola carriers in caves that he was jokingly called “Dr. Bat S#!t.” The book also documents the outbreak of Ebola Reston in a U.S. Army primate laboratory, and it describes the heroic efforts to contain that outbreak.
But one of the most disturbing and fascinating passages in the book appears on page 310 in the soft cover print edition. This passage appears to be an aggregation of the thinking of the many scientists interviewed by Preston. (I don’t think these words are the direct opinion of Preston himself.) Keep in mind that at the time this passage was written — the 1990’s — the world population stood at only around five billion people. AIDS had just recently emerged, and global concern about deadly viral pandemics was on the rise.