Gena Walker Biology Dear Book Report March 6, 2008 First Block The Cobra Event The “Cobra Event” by Richard Preston was an extraordinary book about an eruption of an unknown disease in New York. The disease started like the common cold but after a period of time blood blistering would begin in the mouth, nasopharynx, and on the eyelids, a series of seizers would begin and during the seizers, the infected started a process of self cannibalization.
After having found two bodies of victims of the unknown outbreak Lex Nathanson, the medical examiner of the state of New York, called down to Walter Mellis with The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, in need of a pathologist to help with the case and Mellis sent Alice Austen, M. D, a twenty-nine-year-old Epidemic Intelligence Service (the E. I. S) officer. While in New York, Austen saw the effects of the outbreak first hand, from the fatal brain swelling, severe nosebleeds, to the golden papillary rings in the irises of the eyes.
She began to put the pieces of the case to together and she discovered the cause of the virus outbreak. It was what appeared to be a small child’s toy, but actually it was a human trail of a biological bomb that dispersed a small amount of infectious bio particles when opened. She took her findings all the way to the F. B. I. where she took part in a recorded conference with members from many high ranking military offices, a man from the Office of the Attorney General, at the Justice Department, and another man with the National Security Council of the White House.
After the conference Austin along with Will Hopkins, Mark Littleberry, and a large team of other scientist specialized in many different fields, began to set up a private research lab on Governors Island in New York to determine the true diagnosis of the Cobra virus and to find the mastermind behind the creation of it . The team later discovered that Cobra was a mixture of smallpox, autographa California nuclear polyhedrosis virus, and the common cold, and it was able to elicit a form of Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome in both male and female humans which is very unusual eeing that the disease is very rare and occurs naturally only in young boys. The team started looking into recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings by companies in the biotechnology industry but found no useful information, so they checked into Food and Drug Administration and found three major geographic areas where biotechnology had settled in the United States. One of the three companies was Bio-Vek, located in Greenfield, New Jersey, and owned by a company in Switzerland by the name of BioArk that specialized in medicines and experimented with bioweapons.
Hopkins, Austen, and Littleberry decided to visit Bio-Vek and have a look at the facilities and while there they found traces of Cobra and so they decided to keep the building under surveillance but when Masaccio heard that the staff was destroying evidence he gave the go ahead to confiscate Bio-Vek Inc. as federal evidence. There Hopkins learned that a man by the name of Thomas Cope had worked at Bio-Vek and was trying to make it so that N. P. V. could infect not just insects but the human race as well, but before Cope finished his work he was fired because Dr.
Heyert found him odd and unreliable. After being fired Cope stole a bioreactor containing Lesch-Nyhan and took up perfecting the human form of N. P. V in his apartment. Hopkins and Austen discovered that Cope was living in Manhattan under the name Harald Vir and they called Masaccio and he sent all his available agents to the location where they evacuated people from the nearby buildings and waited several hours for Cope to make a move but he did nothing up until he realized that the virus he had created and tested on other people was multiplying rapidly in his own body.
So Thomas Cope went into his lab and through the bioreactor containing the virus against the wall and at that moment Hopkins and the other agents detonated the wall out of Cope’s living room hoping to catch Cope but he escaped from the apartment and headed down into the tunnels of the subway. The Reachdeep team tried to follow after him but they had gotten separated throughout the subway tunnels.
Hopkins had ordered Austen to stay behind and find the others but she followed him into the electrical tunnels of the subway, and together they kept on Cope’s trail. Alice Austen ended up making the arrest after Hopkins had almost been shot by Cope in the main railway. Mark Littleberry had died in the subway after a bomb containing Cobra went off and it wasn’t the Cobra that was the cause of death but it was the explosion itself. Hopkins and Austen ad to stay time in quarantine just to make sure that they were not infected with the Cobra virus. A total of thirty-two cases of Cobra were reported and an eighteen-year-old girl did survive after contracting the virus but she had permanent brain damage and ended up having Lesch-Nyhan disease. A few weeks after the large amount of Cobra was released in the subway there was a case of a three-year-old boy coming down with the Cobra infection and another case of a homeless man coming down with the same virus.
It was believed that they obtained the virus from rats that had survived the Cobra event and had become a carrier of the infection and it had also been proven that the virus could be pasted from rodent to human and Suzanne Tanaka had been proof. “Like all viruses, Cobra had no mind or consciousness, although in a biological sense Cobra was intelligent. ” (Richard Preston, “The Cobra Event”, page 394) The protagonist in the “Cobra Event” was Alice Austen and also possibly Will Hopkins and Mark Littleberry. The antagonist of the novel was Thomas Cope also known as Harald Vir and his Cobra virus.
My favorite character was Alice Austen because through Preston’s writing Austen came across very educated and caring, she used her head in situations and always tried to help as much as possible. I enjoyed the “Cobra Event” a great deal. It was a little horrifying at times but yet very interesting and so I kept reading. I loved the novel because it wasn’t just fascinating to read but very educational as well and even though Richard Preston’s novel was a work of fiction it still makes you think about what could happen.
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