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One of the most chilling exchanges in National Geographic’s miniseries The Hot Zone, based on Richard Preston’s best-selling book of the same name, comes the midst of tracking down the cause of a 1976 outbreak of Ebola in Zaire. Dr. Wade Carter (Liam Cunningham) and CDC official Travis Rhodes (James D’Arcy) essentially follow a trailer of dead bodies leading to a clinic administering vitamins via syringe to pregnant women. The two men question one of the nuns running the clinic, who is already near death because of the then-unknown disease, about the practices there:
“How often do you change needles?”
“Once or twice a week.”
“And you … sterilize them?”
Times - Day
“We rinse them a few times a day.”
In 2019, it’s incredible to think of such a practice occurring in what should be a sterilized environment, but it’s far more frightening to think what, in 40 years, a future generation will be fully horrified by regarding our own practices and procedures.
Hot - Zone - Nights - Outbreak - Ebola
The 6-episode The Hot Zone (which will run over three consecutive nights) is primarily focused on a 1989 outbreak of what would become know as Ebola Reston, which was first discovered in monkeys in a DC-area facility and misdiagnosed as Simian Hemorrhagic Fever. Ebola Zaire, the strain that devastated African villages in 1979, was still fairly new and considered extremely rare. But thanks to the suspicions of Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax (Julianna Margulis), the virus was stopped before the situation endangered millions.
What The Hot Zone does very well is focus its story on science and procedure. It can be hard to balance drama and accuracy when one of the series’ most key lines is “the antibodies are in the plasma!” but the series makes it work. Protocol is at the forefront of every operation in the series — bagging and tagging, taking samples, utilizing syringes...
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