The Hot Zone

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Richard Preston

Although through much of The Hot Zone Richard Preston functions as a kind of disembodied third-person narrator, in the final section of the book, he becomes a character in his own right. In deciding to… (read full character analysis)

Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax

A brave, dedicated soldier and scientist (trained as a veterinarian), and a woman in a male-dominated field, Nancy Jaax provides The Hot Zone with a compelling and relatable protagonist. A loving wife to Jerry(read full character analysis)

Lieutenant Colonel Gerald (Jerry) Jaax

Like his wife Nancy Jaax, Jerry is devoted to his family, but does not hesitate to risk his life during the USAMRIID operation to contain the Ebola virus within the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit… (read full character analysis)

Eugene (Gene) Johnson

Although a civilian, Gene Johnson runs the Ebola research division of USAMRIID. He has traveled the world studying rare and deadly viruses, and has a reputation for being brilliant but unconventional. His immense knowledge of… (read full character analysis)

Charles Monet

A Frenchman who lives in Kenya near Kitum Cave in 1980, Monet contracts Marburg after visiting the cave. His swift and horrifying decline is described in excruciating detail. Most terrifying of all is the fact… (read full character analysis)
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Colonel Clarence James Peters (C. J.)

The chief of the disease-assessment unit at USAMRIID, C. J. Peters (like Gene Johnson) has traveled far and wide studying rare infections diseases. Although a military man, Peters favors Hawaiian shirts and sandals, displaying… (read full character analysis)

Peter Jahrling

A civilian virologist at USAMRIID, Jahrling is one of the first at the Institute to realize that the monkeys at the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit are infected with Ebola. He is an expert on monkey… (read full character analysis)

Thomas Geisbert

An intern at USAMRIID who specializes in using the Institute’s super-powerful electron microscope, Geisbert takes the initial pictures that identify the Reston virus as Ebola. Like Peter Jahrling, he is potentially exposed to the… (read full character analysis)

Dan Dalgard

As the consulting veterinarian at the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit, Dalgard is the first to realize that something is very wrong with the monkey colony. Although he is a reputable and skilled veterinarian, he is… (read full character analysis)

Dr. Joseph B. McCormick

Chief of the Special Pathogens Branch of the CDC, McCormick has a great deal of personal enmity towards C. J. Peters, and believes that the CDC, not USAMRIID (a branch of the army), should… (read full character analysis)

Dr. Frederick Murphy

Now the director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the CDC, Dr. Murphy was one of the scientists who discovered Ebola, who helped name it, and who took pictures of it with an… (read full character analysis)

Dr. Karl Johnson

Another co-discoverer of the Ebola virus along with Dr. Frederick Murphy, Johnson was a virus hunter who ran the Special Pathogens Branch of the CDC. He also helped research and combat the virus when… (read full character analysis)

Mayinga N.

A young, smart, and talented nurse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mayinga catches Ebola Zaire (the most deadly type of the virus) from a dying nun. Rather than immediately isolate herself, however, she… (read full character analysis)

Peter Cardinal

A ten-year-old Danish boy, Peter Cardinal dies of Marburg after visiting Kitum Cave in 1985. No one knows, how he contracted the virus, or why his family members did not become ill. Both Gene Johnson(read full character analysis)

Major General Philip K. Russell

Russell is the commander of the United States Army Medical Research and Development Command, and controls USAMRIID. David Huxsoll notifies him about the Ebola Reston virus, and he in turn consults his friend Frederick Murphy(read full character analysis)

Bill Volt

As the colony manager at the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit, it is Bill Volt who calls Dan Dalgard to tell him that the monkeys at the facility are dying in unusually large numbers. He also… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Johnson (Tony)
Nancy Jaax’s direct superior when she first begins working with Ebola, Tony Johnson eventually recommends her to become chief of pathology at USAMRIID. He works closely with Nancy in studying Ebola, and notes her bravery and her coolness under pressure.
Colonel David Huxsoll
The commander of USAMRIID, David Huxsoll is quickly notified by Peter Jahrling and C. J. Peters when they identify the Reston virus as Ebola. He also eventually brings Nancy Jaax into the discussion.
Dr. Peter Tukei
A scientist at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, Dr. Tukei helps his friend Gene Johnson investigate the death of Peter Cardinal, and particularly its connection to Kitum Cave.
Dr. David Silverstein
An American doctor with many high-profile patients in Kenya, Dr. Silverstein treats Shem Musoke and alerts the authorities to the potentially massive threat that the virus poses to the Kenyan public. He also treated Peter Cardinal.
Robin MacDonald
Preston’s guide when he goes to Kitum Cave. Although Robin MacDonald knows little about the Ebola virus, he has a deep knowledge of the power and danger of nature.
Dr. Shem Musoke
After treating Charles Monet in Nairobi and being exposed to a huge amount of the infected man’s blood and vomit, Dr. Musoke becomes ill with Marburg. He eventually survives the sickness, although he remembers nothing about his near-death experience.
Lieutenant Colonel Ron Trotter
A close friend of Nancy Jaax, Ron Trotter assists her in dissecting the infected monkeys from Reston.
Milton Frantig
An employee of the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit, Frantig eventually begins vomiting outside the building during USAMRIID’s operation. Despite having been exposed to Ebola, however, he never falls ill.
Jarvis Purdy
Purdy experiences cardiac arrest after working in the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit, but like Milton Frantig, he never becomes ill from Ebola.
John Coleus
Another employee of the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit. Although he cuts his finger on a scalpel while dissecting an Ebola-infected monkey, he too never becomes ill from the virus.
Joel Breman
A CDC doctor who accompanied Karl Johnson during his work in Zaire.
Dr. Antonio Bagshawe
Shem Musoke’s physician in Nairobe. Antonio Bagshawe treated him while he was ill with the Ebola that he’d contracted from Charles Monet.
Frederic Grant (Fred)
Preston’s friend, Frederic Grant accompanies him on his expedition to Kitum Cave along with Jamy Buchanan.
Jamy Buchanan
Along with Fred Grant, Jamy Buchanan is a part of the Preston’s journey to Kitum Cave.
PFC Nicole Berke
Only eighteen, Nicole Berke nevertheless is included as part of the team commanded by Jerry Jaax that is tasked with euthanizing the monkeys of the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit.
PFC Charlotte Godwin
Another young member of Jerry Jaax’s team that euthanizes the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit monkeys. Charlotte Godwin eventually performs necropsies on the infected monkeys, before leaving the facility along with Rhonda Williams and hiding from reporters.
Specialist Rhonda Williams
A member of Jerry Jaax’s team that takes control of the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit. Rhonda Williams becomes alarmed when her spacesuit’s battery begins to die (which would leave her without oxygen in the Ebola-contaminated building). After having her battery replaced, she leaves the facility with Charlotte Godwin.
Thomas Ksiazek
An Army scientist who attempts to develop a rapid test for Ebola to determine whether people are infected.
Sergeant Swiderski
A soldier at USAMRIID whom Jerry Jaax does not send into the Reston primate Quarantine Unit because she is pregnant, and he knows the devastating effects that Ebola has on pregnant women.
Charles Monet’s friend
This nameless woman accompanies Charles Monet to Kitum Cave, and sleeps with him. It is unclear, however, whether she falls ill along with him, as no one remembers who she is.
Mr. Jones
A British veterinarian who recalls the corrupt and careless corporate practices that may have led to the 1967 Marburg outbreak in Germany.
Klaus F.
An employee of the Behring Works vaccine factory in Germany who becomes infected in 1967 by the monkeys that the factory uses. He is the first known human victim of Marburg.
Heinrich P.
An employee of the Behring Works vaccine factory in Germany who contracted Marburg.
Renate L.
A Behring Works vaccine factory employee who broke a contaminated test tube and subsequently became infected with Marburg.
Hans O. -V.
A man who became infected with Marburg in Germany, and eventually died of a brain hemorrhage.
Margaretha Isaäcson
The doctor who cared for Mayinga N. when she contracted Ebola. Despite treating Mayinga without a mask, Dr. Isaäcson never contracted Ebola.
Patricia Webb
A CDC virologist who was once married to Karl Johnson, and who studied Ebola with him.
President Mobutu Sese Seko
The maximum leader of Zaire, the president activates his army after hearing about Mayinga N.’s infection and its potential to spread.
Curtis Dunn
Nancy Jaax’s father, who falls terribly ill with cancer at the same time as the Reston Primate Quarantine Unit crisis begins. Nancy does not travel home for his death because she feels doing so would mean deserting her post.
Jaime Jaax
– Nancy and Jerry Jaax’s daughter, and an avid gymnast.
Jaison Jaax
Introverted and independent, Jaison is Nancy and Jerry Jaax’s son.
John Jaax
A businessman from Kansas City and Jerry Jaax’s beloved brother, John Jaax’s mysterious murder plunges Nancy Jaax’s husband into a deep and lasting depression.
Ada Jaax
Jerry and John Jaax’s mother. Ada is still grieving for her son’s mysterious and untimely death.
Sergeant Thomas Amen
An army buddy of Jerry Jaax’s, Thomas Amen is one of the first soldiers (along with Jerry) to enter the infected Reston Primate Quarantine Facility.
Captain Mark Haines
A trusted member of Jerry Jaax’s USAMRIID team that takes control of the Reston Primate Quarantine Facility, Mark (along with Jerry) is one of the first soldiers to put on a spacesuit. He is also a former Green Beret scuba diver, and is now an Army veterinarian.
Sergeant Curtis Klages
A member of Jerry Jaax’s Reston Primate Quarantine Facility team, Sergeant Klages discovers a freezer full of frozen infected monkey corpses.
Roy Baron
A CDC doctor who traveled to Sudan along with Joe McCormick.
Dr. Imre Lofler
The surgeon at Nairobi Hospital who leads the operation on the infected Dr. Shem Musoke.
An employee of a Belgian mission in Zaire, and the first known victim of Ebola Zaire.
Sister M. E.
Another victim of the strain of Ebola Zaire contracted by the schoolteacher.
Sister E. R.
A friend of Sister M. E. who also contracted Ebola Zaire and died.
Yu. G.
A Sudanese shopkeeper who was the first known patient to contract Ebola Sudan.
P. G.
A co-worker of Yu. G. who contracted Ebola Sudan. Because of his popularity, he infected many others.
Mehrl Gibson
A civilian animal expert, Mehrl Gibson is a member of Jerry Jaax’s USAMRIID team.
Major Nathaniel Powell
An officer on Jerry Jaax’s USAMRIID team.
Captain Steven Denny
Another officer on Jerry Jaax’s USAMRIID team.
Captain Elizabeth Hill
Another officer on Jerry Jaax’s USAMRIID team.
A man who died of Ebola Sudan, and whose blood USAMRIID possesses.
Iain Redmond
An expert on elephant behavior, Iain Redmond lived in Kitum Cave for three months to be closer to an elephant herd, but he never contracted Marburg.
Joan Rhoderick
A civilian technician at USAMRIID, Joan Rhoderick works with blood samples from Monkey O53, and notices that there is something strange about them.
Anthony Sanchez
A researcher in the C.D.C.’s Special Pathogens Branch who analyzes the genetics of Ebola Zaire and Ebola Reston along with Heinz Feldmann.
Heinz Feldmann
A researcher in the C.D.C.’s Special Pathogens Branch who analyzes the genetics of Ebola Zaire and Ebola Reston along with Anthony Sanchez.
John Weaver
John Jaax’s former business partner, John Weaver is suspected of murdering Jerry Jaax’s brother’s.
Officer Reed Buente
The detective who investigates John Jaax’s death.
Carrie MacDonald
Robin MacDonald’s wife and business partner, she accompanies the group to Kitum Cave.
Katana Chege
One of Robin and Carrie MacDonald’s safari staff on the journey to Kitum Cave.
Herman Andembe
One of Robin and Carrie MacDonald’s safari staff on the journey to Kitum Cave.
Morris Mulatya
One of Robin and Carrie MacDonald’s safari staff safari staff on the journey to Kitum Cave.
Polycarp Okuku
The Mount Elgon guard assigned to protect the Preston’s traveling party from poachers.
Charles Monet’s housekeeper.
Iain MacDonald
Robin MacDonald’s father, and a famous professional hunter in Africa.
Daniel arap Moi
The president of Kenya, and a patient of Dr. David Silverstein.
Diana, Lady Delamere
An English noblewoman, and a patient of Dr. David Silverstein.
Beryl Markham
An aviator and memoirist from East Africa, and a patient of Dr. David Silverstein.
Monkey O53
The monkey dissected by Dan Dalgard, samples from which eventually are sent to USAMRIID and examined by Peter Jahrling, Joan Roderick, and Thomas Geisbert.
An African parrot, and Nancy Jaax’s pet.
A python, and Nancy Jaax’s pet. At one point he escapes and then surprises Nancy in her study.