The Hot Zone

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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 and Preston speculate about what infected Peter within the cave, but never draw a definitive conclusion.

Peter Cardinal Quotes in The Hot Zone

The The Hot Zone quotes below are all either spoken by Peter Cardinal or refer to Peter Cardinal. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of The Hot Zone published in 1999.
Part 1, Chapter 8 Quotes

Some of the predators that feed on humans have lived on the earth for a long time, far longer than the human race, and their origins go back, it seems, almost to the formation of the planet. When a human being is fed upon and consumed by one of them, especially in Africa, the event is telescoped against horizons of space and time, and takes on a feeling of immense antiquity.

Related Characters: Richard Preston (speaker), Peter Cardinal
Related Symbols: Mount Elgon and Kitum Cave
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

During the chapter in which he describes the death of a young boy of Marburg virus after a day of exploring Kitum Cave, Preston emphasizes the immense age of the Ebola virus. Unlike humans, who evolved fairly recently (and even more recently became the Earth’s dominant life form), viruses have existed on Earth for billions and billions of years. Described as “predators,” they have evolved to maximize their ability to spread, their age contrasting with the very short amount of time that we humans have been studying them.

As Preston describes the death of the boy—Peter Cardinal—he highlights the feeling of “antiquity” surrounding the event. Peter is dead after exploring an ancient cave and contracting an even more ancient virus. Although only a child, his death is the product of billions of years of evolution, something humans too often forget.

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Gene felt a prickling sensation on his scalp. The paths of Charles Monet and Peter Cardinal had crossed at only one place on earth, and that was inside Kitum Cave. What had they done in the cave? What had they found in there? What had they touched? What had they breathed? What lived in Kitum Cave?

Related Characters: Richard Preston (speaker), Eugene (Gene) Johnson (speaker), Charles Monet, Peter Cardinal
Related Symbols: Mount Elgon and Kitum Cave
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Preston describes the reaction of researcher Gene Johnson as he realizes that Charles Monet and Peter Cardinal, both of whom died of Marburg virus, each visited Kitum Cave days before their deaths. The “prickling sensation” is because Johnson knows this cannot be a coincidence. Somewhere within Kitum Cave is the source of the Marburg virus. Although a chilling thought, Johnson is also excited and curious—if he were able to find this source, it would be a huge breakthrough for Ebola research as a whole.

Preston next asks a series of questions, helping his readers to understand all the possibilities that scientists must consider as they study a virus. Marburg might be spread through touch, it might be spread through the air, or it might incubate within an animal found in the cave. Of course, Preston also adds a touch of foreboding to the questions, helping readers to understand how simultaneously terrifying and illuminating such a discovery would be.

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Peter Cardinal Character Timeline in The Hot Zone

The timeline below shows where the character Peter Cardinal appears in The Hot Zone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 8: Cardinal
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Globalization Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...Johnson receives a mysterious package from Kenya containing blood from a 10-year-old Danish boy named Peter Cardinal. As Johnson drives to USAMRIID, he doubts there will be anything interesting in the... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Globalization Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
...on the Cardinal family, which had recently taken a vacation in Kenya. During the trip, Peter fell ill (the first symptom was red eyes), and the doctors diagnosed him with malaria.... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Globalization Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Preston meets David Silverstein in a coffee shop to learn more about Peter Cardinal. Silverstein describes an alert, fit 10-year-old, who appeared to have pneumonia. Soon afterward he... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Peter Cardinal’s parents and sister watched as he lay in agony. Eventually his brain activity flatlined,... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Globalization Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Back in USAMRIID, Gene Johnson puts Peter Cardinal’s blood into a vial full of monkey cells in order to observe its effect... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 9: Going Deep
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Globalization Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
Preston visits Gene Johnson near Fort Detrick. The scientist recounts his discovery that Peter Cardinal and Charles Monet had both been at Kitum Cave. Afterwards, Johnson flew out to... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Globalization Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
The year before Peter Cardinal’s death, in 1986, Gene Johnson had infected monkeys through their lungs with Marburg and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3: Exposure
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...sight, and has spent a great deal of time looking at the Marburg taken from Peter Cardinal. (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...appear to be spilling out of them. The two decide to show the cells to Peter Jahrling. Since he’s only in Level 3, Geisbert removes his scrub suit and takes a... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5: Medusa
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
...filovirus, his first thought is “Marburg.” Panicking, he recalls how similar this sample looks to Peter Cardinal’s, and realizes that he and Peter Jahrling may have smelled a hot Level 4... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 2: Camp
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...asks Robin MacDonald who has died in the cave. Preston explains about Charles Monet and Peter Cardinal, and explains that he’s just being careful. Okuku states that he’s heard of the... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Globalization Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
...months to study elephants. He wore no biohazard gear but never fell ill (and later Peter Jahrling would express an interest in testing his blood). Preston explains Iain Redmond’s theory that... (full context)
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
...and petrified trees. There are crystals too, which look very sharp. He speculates that perhaps Peter Cardinal cut himself on one. He continues along, disturbing another colony of bats, and finding... (full context)