Dr. Nancy Jaax had been promoted to work in the Level 4 Biosafety containment area at USAMRIID, and is assigned to research the Ebolavirus. While preparing food for her family at home, she cuts her right hand. Later, while working on a dead, ebola-infected monkey, one of the gloves on the hand with the open wound tears, and she is almost exposed to contaminated blood, but does not get infected. Meanwhile, Peter Cardinal, a ten-year-old visits Kitum Cave and does not survive his infection. Nurse Mayinga is also infected by a nun and elects to visit Nairobi Hospital for treatment, where she succumbs to the disease. A CDC team arrives to collect samples of the virus for study.
In Reston, Virginia, less than fifteen miles (24 km) away from Washington, DC, a company called Hazelton Research once operated aquarantine center for monkeys that were destined for laboratories. In October of 1989, when an unusually high number of their monkeys began to die, their veterinarian decided to send some samples to Fort Detrick (USAMRIID) for study. At the time, it was believed that the virus was Simian hemorrhagic fever virus, a viral hemorrhagic fever harmless to humans but almost always fatal to other primates (see zoonosis). Early during the testing process in biosafety level 3, when one of the flasks appeared to be contaminated with harmless pseudomonasbacterium, two USAMRIID scientists exposed themselves to the virus by wafting the flask. When they eventually tested the samples with known Level 4 agents, only the Ebola Zaire strain had a reaction with the unknown samples. They decided not to tell anyone about their exposure, but they did secretly test their blood every day. After one of the monkey house staff members becomes ill with nausea and violent vomiting, USAMRIID is given permission to send in a team to euthanize all the monkeys at the facility and collect tissue samples. They later determine that, while the virus is terrifyingly lethal to monkeys, humans can be infected with it without any health effects at all. They name the ebola virus strain Ebola Reston.
Finally, the author himself goes into Africa to explore Kitum Cave. On the way, he discusses the role of AIDS in the present, as the highway they were on, sometimes called the "AIDS Highway," or the "Kinshasa Highway" was where