The Hot Zone

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Spacesuits and Gloves Symbol Icon
Multiple characters in The Hot Zone use spacesuits and gloves in order to protect themselves from infectious diseases, especially Ebola. Over and over again, however, Preston makes clear how fragile and unreliable these seemingly foolproof protective measures really are. At the very beginning of the book, Nancy Jaax is nearly exposed to Ebola-infected blood because of a tear in her spacesuit cuff and glove. When USAMRIID enters the infected Reston monkey house, there are several close calls involving Ebola-contaminated monkeys. At the end of the book, meanwhile, Preston takes many precautionary measures before entering Kitum Cave, and yet still warns his friends that he may be infected with Ebola. Despite humans’ best efforts, Preston implies, nature will always find a way to prevail.

Spacesuits and Gloves Quotes in The Hot Zone

The The Hot Zone quotes below all refer to the symbol of Spacesuits and Gloves. 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 2, Chapter 2 Quotes

[Peter Jahrling] had held in his gloved hands virtually every hot agent known, except for Ebola and Marburg. When people asked him why he didn’t work with those viruses, he replied, “I don’t particularly feel like dying.”

Related Characters: Richard Preston (speaker), Peter Jahrling (speaker)
Related Symbols: Spacesuits and Gloves
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

During this passage, Preston introduces Peter Jahrling, a well-known virologist who often deals with monkey diseases. Despite his skill and his bravery, however, Jahrling refuses to handle Ebola, explaining, “I don’t particularly feel like dying.” Preston has included this quote for several reasons: first of all, it is ironic, considering that Jahrling will shortly (and unknowingly) be handling Ebola despite his wishes. Second of all, Preston wishes to emphasize just how dangerous Ebola is considered in the scientific community. Even a courageous and accomplished man like Jahrling believes Ebola too deadly to handle directly.

His attitude contrasts with that of someone like Gene Johnson, who finds the disease both terrifying and fascinating. Attitudes towards Ebola, Preston implies, can help us learn more about the individuals who hold those attitudes. Jahrling, for instance, is cautious and considered, in contrast to Gene, who is far more risk-taking and adventurous—but thus also more prone to the risks of hubris.

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Part 3, Chapter 1 Quotes

Be exquisitely careful. Know where your hands and body are at all times. If you get blood on your suit, stop what you are doing and clean it off right away. Don’t let blood stay on your gloves. Rinse them off right away. With bloody gloves, you can’t see a hole in the glove.

Related Characters: Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax (speaker)
Related Symbols: Spacesuits and Gloves, Blood and Bleeding
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:

The Army begins to prepare for a major operation to sterilize the Reston Monkey House, and Nancy Jaax issues instructions to the soldiers under her command. Despite the fact that all the soldiers will be wearing spacesuits and gloves, her orders emphasize how easily they still might be exposed to Ebola.

This quote also highlights the importance and danger of blood within the narrative. Blood can either give life or—if it is infected—take life away. Nancy's emphasis on blood reminds us of her own near-exposure, while also reminding the soldiers (and the readers) of the billions of viral particles that these monkeys' blood contains. 

It is also important to note the bravery of both Jaax and the soldiers under her command. Despite the immense danger that they are facing, the USAMRIID scientists and soldiers are clear-eyed and unflinching. They understand the importance of their mission, and are committed to keeping people safe, even at the expense of their own well-being. 

Part 4, Chapter 2 Quotes

Say “Ahh,” Kitum Cave. Do you have a virus? No instruments, no senses can tell you if you are in the presence of the predator. I turned off my lights and stood in total darkness, feeling a bath of sweat trickle down my chest, hearing the thump of my heart and the swish of blood in my head.

Related Characters: Richard Preston (speaker)
Related Symbols: Mount Elgon and Kitum Cave, Spacesuits and Gloves, Blood and Bleeding
Page Number: 307
Explanation and Analysis:

Towards the end of the novel, the narrative turns personal, as author and narrator Richard Preston explores Kitum Cave himself, in a spacesuit, in order to learn more about the Marburg virus that lurks within it. He emphasizes to his readers that though he's protected by a spacesuit, he has no way of knowing if he is being exposed to viral particles at the moment or not. To emphasize his blindness, Preston turns off his flashlight and stands in total darkness, unable to see his surroundings just as he is unable to detect the possible presence of Marburg.

As he stands there, Preston observes his sweat, pulse, and blood pumping—all signs of an alive but intensely vulnerable human body that could easily be attacked by Marburg or some other "predatory" agent. Preston is implicitly comparing his own small, human fragility to the massive, ancient cave, and to the hidden menace of Marburg that lurks somewhere inside of it. 

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Spacesuits and Gloves Symbol Timeline in The Hot Zone

The timeline below shows where the symbol Spacesuits and Gloves appears in The Hot Zone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1: Something in the Forest
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...person. In fact, when researchers study live HIV, they don’t even need to wear protective spacesuit gear. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2: Jumper
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...that his pupils are dilated, which denotes brain damage. Although he does not even have gloves on, Musoke inserts a laryngoscope down Monet’s throat, his hands becoming covered by mucus, blood,... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5: Project Ebola
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...in her Army uniform. She considers that she may need to put on a protective spacesuit later that day because of her training in veterinarian pathology. She is specializing in studying... (full context)
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...two of the monkeys have died overnight. This means that she must put on a spacesuit and enter the Ebola suite to dissect the monkeys—and quickly, before Ebola causes their internal... (full context)
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...Most consider it too dangerous and frightening to handle. Gene has recurring nightmares about his spacesuit becoming contaminated with Ebola. (full context)
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...even talking to Jerry Jaax, who didn’t want his wife handling Ebola or wearing a spacesuit. When Tony talked to Nancy, however, he found her capable, and didn’t think her hands... (full context)
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...is a chair. Nancy puts baby powder on her hands underneath a pair of latex gloves, sealing these around her hands with tape, and doing the same with her socks. (full context)
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As Tony Johnson enters, Nancy puts on her Chemturion biological spacesuit, taking special care with its heavy rubber gloves, the “most important barrier between her and... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6: Total Immersion
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...out the monkey on an autopsy table. They pull on yet another pair of latex gloves, meaning that they now have three layers of gloves: an inner lining, a spacesuit glove,... (full context)
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...the brain, eyes, and spinal cord, Johnson notices a large rip on Nancy’s outermost right glove. She takes it off, getting blood on her spacesuit in the process. As she rinses... (full context)
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When the decon shower is finished, Nancy takes off the spacesuit, and realizes with horror that the glove has indeed leaked, meaning that there is Ebola... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7: Ebola River
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...in charge, Patricia Webb (who was married to Karl Johnson at the time), put on gloves to handle the blood and managed to collect a few droplets. She placed it into... (full context)
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...destination, remembering his wife and children in Michigan. He had only surgical masks, gowns, and gloves in his bag, and knew that this would not be enough to handle an infectious... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8: Cardinal
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...proceeds to the Ebola suite, places the serum in an airtight container, and puts on gloves in order to begin his work. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 9: Going Deep
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...create a decontamination area outside of it. To go into the cave, they wear orange spacesuits called Racals. These suits are lighter than the Chemturion suits used at USAMRIID, and are... (full context)
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...his place as chief of pathology at USAMRIID, and Nancy begins to work in a spacesuit once more. Jerry Jaax, meanwhile, becomes the head of USAMRIID’s veterinary division. The family moves... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1: Reston
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...where Dalgard observes that one of the monkeys appears dazed and ill. Donning thick leather gloves and pinning down the monkey, Dalgrard feels that it has a fever, and sees that... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2: Into Level 3
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...also studied viruses in the rain forests of Central America. Trained to work in a spacesuit, he researches methods of combating hot viruses, and tries to think minimally about the diseases’... (full context)
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...kept under negative air pressure to keep viruses from escaping, but does not require a spacesuit. Instead, Jahrling wears a surgical mask, scrubs, and gloves. He examines the monkey’s spleen with... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3: Exposure
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...as like “sorting butterflies or collecting flowers.” He even feels “at peace” when in a spacesuit, and enjoys being in the hot zone by himself. He’s also a hunter, and especially... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7: The Second Angel
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As Dan Dalgard waits and worries, Peter Jahrling works in his spacesuit. He plans to combine samples of the virus with the blood serum of humans who... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9: Garbage Bags
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...Peters agrees to carry them in his “old red Toyota” anyway. The team doesn’t have gloves, and Nancy asks Bill whether the bags have been disinfected. He responds that he washed... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10: Space Walk
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...of her staffed named Lieutenant Colonel Ron Trotter and tells him to put on a spacesuit so that they can go into the hot zone together. Nancy locks away her engagement... (full context)
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...presses them onto slides in order to study them later. She works slowly, rinsing her gloves multiple times in decontaminant, and changes the gloves often. As she works, Nancy wonders whether... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11: Shoot-Out
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...Ebola victims, reeking with blood, and scattered with distorted, horrific corpses. Armed only with rubber gloves, a surgical gown, paper boots to protect his shoes from blood, and a surgical mask,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12: The Mission
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...house, and for this position, he chooses Jerry Jaax. Although Jerry has never worn a spacesuit, he is the chief of the Institute’s veterinary division, and he has experience directing people.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 13: Reconaissance
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...5 AM, euthanizing the monkeys, and taking samples of tissue. They will be working in spacesuits under Level 4 biocontainment. (full context)
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...have stopped cleaning the cages. Klages thinks that they shouldn’t even be inside without a spacesuit. The men find Bill Volt in his office, and are ill-at-ease, wondering whether that room... (full context)
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...look at the animals. He does not, however, invite Joe McCormick. The group puts on gloves and surgical masks and enters Room H. Nancy and Peters are alarmed that none of... (full context)
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...and taking them to McDonalds, Jerry explains that he and Nancy will be putting on spacesuits tomorrow and working a long day in order to deal with an emergency involving a... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1: Insertion
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...head to the Institute. Gene Johnson is already there with his gear from Kitum Cave: spacesuits, rubber gloves, needles, dissection tools, flashlights, biohazard bags, and handheld sprayers to decontaminate spacesuits. Meanwhile,... (full context)
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...a nearby day-care center. Jerry Jaax and Gene Johnson decide to have their team put spacesuits on inside the building so that television crews can’t film them. Jerry resolves to go... (full context)
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...confused. Nancy trains the soldiers as they suit up, reminding them to always check their spacesuits for rips, and to put extra tape on their ankles to repair rips and tears... (full context)
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...respirators, but no other type of gear. The workers are shocked by the soldiers in spacesuits, and Jerry at last asks them which way to Room H. Afterwards, the two report... (full context)
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Nancy gets into a scrub suit, puts on her spacesuit, gathers boxes of syringes, and goes into the building with Captain Steven Denny. They head... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 2: A Man Down
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...Institute. McCormick, however, refuses, believing that it is difficult to transmit Ebola, and that a spacesuit is unnecessary to treat him. Although Peters disagrees with McCormick and dislikes him intensely, he... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3: Tangos
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...combatting an Ebola-like virus, dealing with large amounts of blood, handling sharp objects, and wearing spacesuits. He says that any member of the team can opt out, but no one does.... (full context)
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Preston explains that the Army does not consider this work hazardous, because the spacesuit should act as protection, and therefore the volunteers will not receive hazard pay. They also... (full context)
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...the Slammer for thirty days. In Kitum Cave, he had once cut himself through his spacesuit three times with bloody tools. His close calls make him all the more afraid of... (full context)
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Jerry Jaax is helped into a spacesuit and enters the monkey house with Sergeant Thomas Amen. The place is a mess, with... (full context)
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...needles and readying them to be filled with drugs. Captain Mark Haines gets into a spacesuit and lectures his soldiers, reminding them that they are putting animals out of their misery... (full context)
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...eighteen-year-old Private First Class Charlotte Godwin, a tiny woman who is dwarfed by her giant spacesuit. Together with her buddy she enters the airlock, noting the terrible smell that is creeping... (full context)
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As more team members come in, Jerry orders them to check each others’ spacesuits every five or ten minutes, and to rest for ten minutes every hour. He decides... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4: Inside
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...sergeant in to inspect Rhonda and Charlotte, and the man discovers a hole in Rhonda’s spacesuit and tapes it up before decontaminating her. Gene meets the two women to warn them... (full context)
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...video cameras towards a window, Preston speculates, they would have gotten video of “soldiers in spacesuits smeared in Ebola blood engaged in the first major biohazard mission the world ever knew.” (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 5: A Bad Day
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...Army scientist named Thomas Ksiazek has been working in a Level 4 lab in a spacesuit to develop a rapid test for the Ebola virus. At last, on December 6th, he... (full context)
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...the needle out, blood spurts out as well. She makes sure to rinse off her gloves and her spacesuit often. Occasionally Rhonda misses the heart, causing the animal’s body to jerk... (full context)
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Peter Jahrling, meanwhile, has been spending all his time in his spacesuit running tests on monkey samples, while Tom Geisbert has been working equally hard at his... (full context)
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...holding a syringe filled with a hot virus. She tries to escape him but her spacesuit slows her down. At last she wakes up, realizing that she’s been having a nightmare. (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 6: Decon
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...into the building for the next three days. Last the team goes back in wearing spacesuits, and finds that the treatment has killed the niger, meaning that the Ebola is most... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 2: Camp
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...of the cave, Preston assembles his gear. He does not have the kind of pressurized spacesuit that USAMRIID uses—instead, he’s brought “a neutral-pressure whole-body suit with a hood and a full-face... (full context)